Bad week for Jerry Brown? First one of his associates called Republican rival Meg Whitman a “whore,” an utterance caught on-tape. Now the owners of celeb-centric Koi restaurants say they had nothing to do with a group of car washes fingered by the Attorney General for allegedly underpaying workers.

Koi issued a press release Monday stating, ” … The Attorney General's website that incorrectly stated that the owners of Koi Restaurant in Los Angeles have ownership interests in various car washes identified as defendants in a lawsuit filed by the Attorney General.”

Brown's office seems to concur: It has wiped all references to Koi from its news release on the car-wash crackdown.

Too bad for Brown. The false connection made for a sexy angle that got a lot of press not only in traditional news outlets but in the tabloid-like media too. Koi is a destination for celebrities who know that TMZ paparazzo are hanging out in front.

The confusion might have stemmed from one of the people targeted by the Attorney General: Dipu Haque, who has an alias, Dipu Haque Sikder, that matches the last name of some of Koi's owners — the Sikder family.

A $6.6 million state lawsuit alleges workers at eight of Haque's car washes were exploited.

Koi's principals say that Brown's office sent them a letter admitting that none of Koi's owners were involved in the car washes. An anonymous Koi owner is quoted in the restaurants' statement:

“The Attorney General should have done a better job of investigating the true facts before saying what he did. No one involved in the restaurant is involved in any manner in any of the car washes that were sued. I would have hoped that the head legal officer of this State would not jump to conclusions on a basis of guilt by association.”

In a follow-up to our story about the original car-wash suit, LA Weekly asked if celebs should “Boycott Koi Restaurant After Owners Sued By State For 'Worker Exploitation?'”

We have since taken it down.

LA Weekly