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Accusations Fly in Race for Assembly District 39 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alex Garcia, Sun Contributing Writer   
Thursday, 26 April 2012 02:56

With only a month left before the June 5 primary election, the gloves have come off in the democratic race for Assembly District 39, which covers large parts of the northeast San Fernando Valley.

The fight for the heavily- Democratic seat pits veteran political figure and Los Angeles City Councilmember Richard Alarcon[District 7th], who goes against relative newcomer Raul Bocanegra, a former legislative aide and current California State University Northridge professor. To date, Bocanegra has raised more campaign funds than Alarcon and is a legitimate contender for the seat.

Alarcon came out swinging Monday, April 23. Standing before a Pacoima condominium complex, he accused Bocanegra of jumping ahead of 250 others in line and obtaining a $50,000, zero percent interest free loan from the City of Los Angeles to purchase one of the units in the building in 2005.

According to a letter sent to the Ethic Commission, Bocanegra engaged in "insider trading" to secure the loan, which he does not have to repay unless he moves. When Bocanegra allegedly obtained the loan, he worked as housing deputy for then councilmember Alex Padilla and worked with developers constructing the 28-unit building at the corner of Osborne Street and Osborne Place.

"It was wrong for Raul to work with the developers, it was wrong for him to jump ahead of the line and it was wrong for him to obtain a $50,000 no interest loan," said Alarcon under the rain and surrounded by community activists. "And why was he the only one to get it? That's just wrong on many different levels."

Larry Gross, executive director of the Coalition for Economic Survival, a tenant's rights group, said he was concerned about the allegations.

"It concerns us when affordable housing funds are being misused and people get ahead of the line," said Gross.

Bocanegra spokesman Josh Pulliam denied Alarcon's allegations.

He said Bocanegra bought the three-bedroom, three-bath unit for $370,000 months after the City Council approved the project and that the $50,000 no interest loan was obtained through the city's Moderate Income Purchase Assistance Program, designed to encourage middle-income homeowners and give purchase assistance to residents making less than $77,700 a year.

He also said Bocanegra was able to purchase the unit after the other buyers did not get the financing or did not continue the purchasing process.

"Richard Alarcon's assertions are completely false, but we've all come to expect Alarcon's lying ways since he was indicted for felony perjury by the DA (District Attorney)," Pulliam said in reference to the perjury charges weighing against Alarcon and his wife, Flora, for allegedly not living in the Panorama City home listed as his voting address. Instead, he was allegedly living in a Sun Valley home outside his district.

"Richard Alarcon should be ashamed of himself and is frantically trying to deflect attention from his court appearance next week where he faces felony charges of perjury and the recent ethics complaint against him from Raul Bocanegra," Pullman added.

Indeed, in late February, Bocanegra filed an official Ethics Complaint because Alarcon paid $47,000 in legal defense fees from his Assembly Campaign Committee. In total, Alarcon has paid more than $140,000 in legal defense fees to pay the mounting legal bills from his felony criminal case. His next court day is May 3.

Alarcon said he did nothing improper in using campaign funds for his legal defense and charged that campaigns often do this.

Alarcon was reminded of these charges during his press conference, where several CSUN students showed up holding signs reading "Hypocrite" and "Where Do You Live?" The students refused to give their names, simply saying they supported Bocanegra.

The 39th District, now held by termed-out Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes (D-Arleta) covers San Fernando, Lake View Terrace, Pacoima, Sunland, Sun Valley and the northern part of North Hollywood.

Besides Alarcon and Bocanegra, who are vying to be the Democratic candidate for the November 6 election, there are three Republican candidates in the race for the seat: Omar Cuevas, Margie Carranza and Ricardo Benitez, as well as Green Party candidate Jack Lindblad.

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 April 2012 04:49