Los Angeles City Council member Kevin de León joins Gil Cedillo in suing over racist photos

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de León, along with his former colleague Gil Cedillo, have sued two former employees of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor in connection with the 2022 release of a secret recording in which racist comments were made during a discussion about redistricting Language used was plans for the city, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The video in the player above is from a previous report

Like Cedillo, de León filed his lawsuit Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court, using some of the same language, claiming the recording was an invasion of privacy and the result of negligence, the newspaper said.

Unlike Cedillo, de León is not suing the federation, but only two former employees, Santos Leon and Karla Vasquez, who are married, according to the Times. The two are also named in Cedillo’s lawsuit.

At the time the recording was made, Vasquez was working as an executive assistant to then-President of the Federation Ron Herrera, and Leon was the organization’s accountant. Both have since resigned.

An investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department to determine who recorded the conversation is ongoing and neither Leon nor Vasquez have been publicly identified as suspects in the case.

READ | LA City Council Racist Tags: Police Reportedly Searching House While Investigating Who Leaked Audio

Federation officials Leon and Vasquez could not be reached for comment.

While the two lawsuits are filed separately, they allege that the recording, which was posted on social media on October 9, 2022, was made without her knowledge or consent and was a “textbook ‘October Surprise,'” damaging her reputation should, the Times reported.

Furthermore, both claim that the most egregious comments on the recording were made by others, not Cedillo or de León.

Cedillo’s filing says other participants in the recording “made comments that many people found extremely offensive,” but some of the statements were taken out of context or mistranslated from Spanish slang.

It goes on to say that Cedillo’s only regret was that he remained silent while others made comments about blacks, Oaxacans and others that were considered racially insensitive and derogatory.

The de León lawsuit states in the filing that the weeks of protests — including people camping outside his Echo Park home and occasional physical altercations — as well as calls for the people named in the recording to resign were misdirected.

“Nuances were ignored, context was hijacked and a frenzy was created,” the Times report said.

The recording was taken during an October 2021 meeting at the Federation headquarters where de León, Cedillo, former City Council President Nury Martinez and former Federation President Ron Herrera met to discuss ways to preserve Latino electoral power as part of efforts to overhaul the to discuss city council district boundaries.

Martinez and Herrera resigned from their positions shortly after the recording became public. Cedillo had lost his bid for re-election four months before the recording was released, but remained in office until the end of his term in December.

Only de León remains in office and has announced plans for re-election.

Cedillo’s lawsuit states that “all of his seniority was relinquished because he failed to disagree with his colleagues’ comments” and that he lost employment opportunities, the Times reported.

The newspaper said he is seeking punitive damages, general damages and compensatory damages.

De León’s complaint said the release of the recording made him the “target of verbal attacks, ethnic insults, death threats, spitting and permanent damage to his reputation and political future.”

He is demanding unspecified damages.

Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.

Laura Coffey

Laura Coffey is a Worldtimetodays U.S. News Reporter based in Canada. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Laura Coffey joined Worldtimetodays in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: LauraCoffey@worldtimetodays.com.

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