Former Ca. Assembly Speaker Lashes out at critics

May 22, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
California's former assembly speaker says accusations that he overspent on trips and purchases are racially motivated.Speaking candidly on Univision last weekend, former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez said those accusations of his lavish spending of campaign funds were racially-motivated and he's being judged differently because of the color of his skin.

"Because of the fact I am Mexican, they think I have to sleep under a cactus and eat from taco stands."

The same people who criticized Nunez's use of campaign funds were appalled he would use the race card when their spending concerns were legitimate.

"The thing that I'm most embarrassed about as a Latino is that there are a lot of Latino kids out there who have looked up to him, have seen an individual who was the son of gardeners, pulled himself up from the bootstraps, became speaker of the assembly, moved his way up, and now to use the race card?" said Hector Barajas, California Republican Party.

Nunez's spending included more than $47,000 in airfare, $5,000 at a wine cellar in France and $2,500 at Louis Vuitton for office expenses.

He also stayed at luxury hotels.

"I am, you could say, like a head of state. I'm the leader of the assembly of the state of California. Where am I supposed to sleep?"

Nunez did not attend most of the floor session today and his office declined our interview requests.

But some Latino lawmakers say it's unfair his expenses overshadow his accomplishments in global warming and raising the minimum wage.

"It's really unfortunate because people have picked up on this one issue and it makes him respond in that way because he's done so much for the state of Calfiorna. He's worked very, very hard in a number of different areas. So I can understand his frustration," said Assm. Anna Caballero.

The Fair Political Practices Commission is still investigating whether Nunez spent campaign funds inappropriately. In the meantime, the watchdog group has since tightened up the rules regarding how politicians can spend donations.


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