Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Will LA pick up the tab for Councilman Jose Huizar's sexual harassment lawsuit?

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Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar admits he had an affair with his former deputy chief of staff. The woman says he sexually harassed her. Either way, the City of Los Angeles could pay the price. 

The city, which is also named in the lawsuit, would typically be defended by its own legal department. But sometimes elected officials hire their own attorneys. That's what Huizar did when Francine Godoy accused him of sexual harassment and retaliation. A spokesman for the councilman declined to comment on whether Huizar would ask the city to pay for his legal troubles. 

A request to use public funds could be made once the city's internal investigation is complete. It would be up to Huizar's colleagues on the Los Angeles City Council to approve taxpayer funds for his private attorney. Two decades ago, the city spent more than $1 million on private attorneys defending then-Councilman Nate Holden in two sexual harassment lawsuits. 

According to the councilman, he and his former staffer had a consensual affair. But in her lawsuit, Godoy said, "Huizar explicitly conditioned (her) employment benefits on sexual favors." 

The councilman was absent from Friday's city council meeting.

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