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Politics, government and public life for Southern California

LA City Council to consider paying for Jose Huizar's legal defense

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The Los Angeles City Council is expected to vote Friday on whether to pick up the tab for Councilman Jose Huizar's legal fees in a sexual harassment lawsuit. The suit was brought by a former member of the councilman's staff. 

The City Council will be asked to hire the firm of Walsh & Associates to represent Huizar in the case filed by Francine Godoy. The firm would be hired on a $200,000 retainer. To date, attorneys there have billed Huizar $41,570 in fees.

The city's legal department cannot defend Huizar because the city is also named as a party in the lawsuit. 

It was last October when Godoy, the councilman's former deputy chief of staff, sued Huizar for sexual harassment and retaliation. Huizar, who is married, denied the allegations, though he did confess to an affair with his former employee. 

"The city attorney is representing the city in the litigation," said Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for the City Attorney's Office. "Council member Huizar retained his own counsel. As this is a matter of ongoing litigation we can't comment further." 

The agenda allows the city council to meet in closed session to discuss the internal City Hall panel that investigated Godoy's complaint. Those findings are not public. 

Should the request be approved, it wouldn't be the first time the city has paid for outside counsel to defend a council member. Twenty years ago, the city shelled out $1 million to defend then-Councilman Nate Holden in two sexual harassment lawsuits. 

A spokesman for Huizar did not respond to a request for comment. 

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