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Miranda’s former landlord, Kevin Kuzma, said he never saw de León, even though he lives in the apartment above Miranda, and had never heard of him. De León found an apartment on nearby Bellevue Avenue, registering to vote there in April 2005.
“It sounds to me like he was living up north and trying to create a record of residency in the district, or in and around the district,” said Popp, who moved to Lincoln Heights in September after living for four years in Glassell Park, just outside the district. “So I think Kevin should just face up to the fact that he has spent the last four years up north, that he moved here to run. And frankly, if he was just knowledgeable about the community’s issues, that wouldn’t be a horrible thing. But he isn’t.”
De León disputed Popp’s allegation, saying he worked for the California Teachers Association out of its Los Angeles office, including the period when he shared an apartment with Núñez. “I can get you eyewitnesses — 2505 Wilshire. I was a permanent resident there. I paid half the rent, the whole bit. In fact, he had left to go get another loft, and I was the sole person living in the place.”
De León said his progressive values and understanding of poverty make him a good fit for the district. Still, other aspects of de León’s public record raise questions. Stopped in September by the Los Angeles Police Department for driving on a suspended license, de León listed his address as San Jose — not far from Burlingame, where the CTA is based.
As an ally of Núñez, de León has become an electoral target of Sacramento political consultant Richie Ross, who has fielded a handful of candidates against those aligned with the Assembly speaker. De León, in turn, said 13 of Ross’s candidates — including Chavez — orchestrated a legal challenge to President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act, not to pose a substantive objection but to have an education issue to run on two months before the election.
Chavez placed the March 28 lawsuit — which is technically an amicus, or “friend of the court,” brief — on several of her mailers as a symbol of her opposition to a Republican president. Each of the plaintiffs in that lawsuit are candidates in the June 6 Democratic primary — including state Assembly hopefuls Kelly Hayes-Raitt, Mike Davis, Curren Price and Chavez.
“If you have all of her political consultant’s clients signed on to that brief, it raises eyebrows,” de León said. “Is this a genuine amicus brief? Or is it a political ploy?”
Popp shared de León’s dim view of the Ross-directed lawsuit against Bush, saying Chavez used it to create a last-minute record of accomplishment. “[Chavez] did not sue the president. Somebody else sued the president, and 13 candidates all represented by the same consultant signed what is basically a letter of support of that lawsuit,” she said. “I actually have filed lawsuits to bring resources to our community and save existing resources.”
Gutierrez defended the legal filing, saying in an e-mail: “Christine’s lawsuit against Bush is something she believes in and chose to pursue.” But one political commentator, the OC Blog, summed up the Ross lawsuit another way, calling it “No Client Left Behind.”