LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa emerged from seclusion Monday and faced a new battery of questions about his extramarital affair with a local newscaster, overshadowing his attempt to refocus attention on city business.
It was his first public appearance since he acknowledged the affair with reporter Mirthala Salinas. He flashed his trademark smile as he maneuvered through reporters while trying to attend a news conference on school funding, and later briefly answered questions.
"I made a mistake," Villaraigosa said, after being asked if disclosures about the affair had damaged his credibility.
"I'm not perfect. I've always said that when you do something that undermines your support in some way or causes people to lose faith in you in some way, you've just got to get back and accept your responsibility and do your job."
Villaraigosa, 54, disappeared after confirming his relationship with Salinas on July 3. He had no public appearances on the Fourth of July and skipped the official opening of New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's Los Angeles headquarters even though he is a national co-chairman of her presidential campaign.
Salinas, a 35-year-old reporter for Telemundo's local affiliate, KVEA, once covered the mayor as a political reporter for the Spanish-language station. She was removed from the beat about 11 months ago.
The station placed her on leave Thursday while it investigates whether her relationship with Villaraigosa breached journalistic ethics.
Villaraigosa's wife, Corina, has filed for divorce. The couple have a 14-year-old daughter and an 18-year-old son. The mayor also has two adult daughters from previous relationships. When he and his wife wed in 1987, they merged their last names — his Villar and her Raigosa. The mayor will keep the Villaraigosa name, according to his office.