State Assembly candidate reveals arrest record

LOS ANGELES - A gay activist campaigning for the state Assembly has revealed he was arrested nine years ago after an undercover police officer propositioned him.

Cesar Portillo, the director of governmental affairs at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, said he chose to discuss the issue Sunday because he ''wanted to make sure people heard from me first rather than misinformation and smear.''

''Nine years ago, I was approached by an undercover police officer who propositioned me and then arrested me. I was not guilty. I was in my twenties and I did not have the money to fight this in court,'' he said.

He said he was automatically suspended from his job as an elementary school teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District and resigned before the case was concluded.

In an interview, Portillo added that he pleaded no contest to the 1991 misdemeanor charge of lewd conduct and paid a fine of about $200.

Portillo, 36, is campaigning in the Hollywood-Eastside district for the seat being vacated by Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa, D-Los Angeles, who is running for mayor of Los Angeles.

Portillo said he went public with the arrest because his opponent, Los Angeles Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg, had begun a whisper campaign about it.

Goldberg denied that her campaign spread information about the arrest.

The March 7 primary is equivalent to election in the 45th Assembly District because the region is overwhelmingly Democratic in registration and there is no Republican on the ballot.


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