When he was named to the prestigious board of Princeton University, then Los Angeles School Board President Jose Huizar spoke humbly of how far he had come in his American immigrant dream story — from his roots in Zacatecas, Mexico, to policy-making at one of the country’s leading Ivy League schools.

It was just part of an altar boy image that made him look like a Latino politician of a different stripe when he was elected to the Los Angeles City Council in 2005.

But that image is in shambles today after a former top aide filed a sexual harassment lawsuit last month to which LA city councilman Huizar, 45, had little choice than to acknowledge he had had an affair with the woman, though he denied harassing her.

Huizar’s fall from grace was just the latest in a long string of politicians who have been caught in sex scandals, a faux pas that has become so widespread in American life that it led to a hit CBS television series, “The Good Wife.”

But the sex scandals involving Latino politicians is particularly disturbing for Hispanics for whom every political victory is precious and every fall so damaging as they try to earn their rightful share of political power in the country.

As the popular blog “Highland Park 90042” in Huizar’s district wrote when the most recent scandal broke:

“This is a sad day for (Council District) 14. As if this district doesn’t have enough problems already. And while the only corruption known at this point is matrimonially, it says a lot about someone’s character, especially when they regard themselves as a devoutly religious family man.

“Much like Villaraigosa, the rest of Huizar’s term will be tarnished, and his future plans to run for his third term will depend on his personal problems instead of his accomplishments as a City Councilmember.

The sex scandal that tarnished Antonio Villaraigosa’s image

In Los Angeles, it was unavoidable for the Huizar affair not to remind residents of the 2007 sex scandal that also shattered the well-groomed image, not to mention the marriage, of former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Once a rising star in Democratic politics, Villaraigosa’s standing was never again the same, and some speculated that the scandal may have contributed to President Obama passing on him for a Cabinet appointment in his second administration.

Villaraigosa left office last summer, termed out by term limitations.

Henry Cisneros’ infamous sex scandal

The most famous of Latino politicians caught up in a sex scandal, though, was former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros, who became the first Latino appointed to a Cabinet position when President Bill Clinton named him secretary of Housing and Urban Development in 1993.

But an affair from his time as mayor eventually doomed Cisneros.

In 1997, he was indicted on 18 counts of conspiracy, giving false statements and obstruction of justice for lying to the FBI about the extent of the affair and was forced to resign.

In a plea agreement, Cisneros pled guilty to a misdemeanor count of lying to the FBI, and was fined $10,000 but did not receive jail time. What makes the fall from grace so hard on Latino politicians, says attorney Alex Jacinto, is that so many of them represent areas that are heavily Roman Catholic.

“There’s almost an immediate erosion of faith, if not support, from their base of Latinas – many of them Guadalupanas and other parishioners who don’t take infidelity lightly,” says Jacinto, who works closely with Catholic parishes on the Los Angeles Eastside.

Now Huizar has stirred emotions again.

Huizar to face allegations of sexual harassment

The former aide, Francine Godoy, alleges that Jose Huizar waged a ‘campaign of retaliation” against her after she turned down specific requests for “sexual favors.”

In her lawsuit, Godoy said that in November 2012, Huizar called her on his cellphone and told her he was “parked down the street from her home.”

After joining him in the car, the lawsuit states, Huizar said she would need to be “closer” to him to continue supporting her campaign for a community college board seat.

When Godoy refused his sexual advances, the lawsuit alleges, Huizar told her he planned to “cancel” an endorsement meeting scheduled for the next day.

“Godoy is someone seeking to damage the councilmember’s reputation because he would not help advance her career as she expected,” said Robert Alaniz, a spokesman for Huizar.

“He has apologized to his wife and family, and he and his wife are currently working on repairing their marriage.”
But will those without vested interests in Huizar’s career be as forgiving?

“What’s up with these Democrat deviant’s War on Women,” wonders Los Angeles blogger Cristy Li, “preying on subordinates for sexual favors to satisfy whatever prurient desires their small minds can imagine?”

Originally published on VOXXI as Sex scandals that haunt Latino politicians

Earlier on HuffPost:

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  • "Self-Deportation"

    "Immigrant: Deport thyself." Not exactly the kind of message you want to send when you're courting Latino voters. Unsurprisingly, Romney backed away from the phrase shortly after taking it for a test spin in the GOP primary, but it reappeared during the presidential debates. Romney won just 27 percent of the Latino vote, the lowest figure since Bob Dole's campaign in 1996.

  • East Haven Mayor 'Might Have Tacos' To Reach Out To Latino Community

    Mayor of the Connecticut town of East Haven, Joseph Maturo Jr. <a href="http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/01/let_them_eat_tacos_mayors_regrettable_response_to_police_abuse_of_latinos.phphttp://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/01/let_them_eat_tacos_mayors_regrettable_response_to_police_abuse_of_latinos.php">said he "might have tacos"</a> when asked what he'd do for the Latino community after four police officers were arrested on charges of racial profiling. The majority of the Latino community in the town of <a href="http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/02/taco_mayor_on_new_appointee_is_he_not_dark_enough_for_you.php">New Haven is Ecuadoran</a>, not Mexican, according to Talking Points Memo.

  • Rep. Steve King Compares Immigrants To Dogs, Insists It's A Compliment

    Iowa Republican Steve King ruffled feathers when he compared immigrants to dogs. In subsequent interviews, King not only stood behind the comments -- <a href="http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2012/06/14/rep-steve-king-defends-comparison-between-immigrants-and-dogs/">he insisted he meant them as a compliment</a>: "In my house, we have raised really good, high-quality Labrador Pointers, we’ve received the pick of the litter from all over the planet. You pick the vigor, the most perky. It was the utilization of the pick of the litter. What is the pick – the alert, the frisky, that’s the one you want. If someone is insulted by that, I don’t know that they belong in this country."

  • Mitt Romney Wishes He Were Latino, Because It's Easier To Win The Presidency That Way

    "My dad, as you probably know, was the governor of Michigan and was the head of a car company. But he was born in Mexico ... and had he been born of Mexican parents, I'd have a better shot at winning this. But he was unfortunately born to Americans living in Mexico. He lived there for a number of years. I mean, I say that jokingly, but it would be helpful to be Latino." -- Mitt Romney Mitt Romney was apparently unaware that most Mexican immigrants face greater obstacles on their path to the presidency than white children born to wealthy parents with political connections.

  • Bill O'Reilly Says Latinos Want Things, Stuff

    Upset about Obama's electoral victory, Bill O'Reilly lamented the country's demographic shift, saying "the white establishment is now the minority." (In fact, it's not. <a href="http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2012/05/how-white-will-the-electorate-be.html">Whites still make up a solid majority of the electorate</a>.) Latinos, O'Reilly says, want "things" and "stuff." Cristina Costantini <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/ABC_Univision/News/analysis-bill-oreilly-wrong/story?id=17702328#.UOHpn4njnoo">dissects the argument at ABC/Univision</a>.

  • Romney Says Obama Won Because He Dolled Out "Gifts" To The Latino Community

    Unsatisfied with the hole he dug himself when he said 47 percent of the country was government-dependent and not worth reaching out to, Romney doubled down after the election saying Obama had won because he offered the Latino community "gifts" in the form of health care and other government subsidies. Most analysts familiar with Latino politics agree that Romney alienated Hispanic voters during the GOP primary, when he embraced extremist positions on immigration. The insensitive comments prompted criticism from conservatives including Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and unsuccessful GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich. "When you're in a hole, you stop digging," <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2012/nov/18/news/la-pn-republicans-abandoning-romney-gifts-20121118">said Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham</a>. "He keeps digging."

  • Ann Coulter Lashes Out At Latinos Without Checking Her Facts

    Rightwing columnist Ann Coulter lashed out at Latinos in a mean-spirited, inaccurate column painting Hispanics as dependent on government. We <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/07/ann-coulter-attacks-latinos-conservatives-hispanic-voters_n_2253721.html">fact-checked her statements here</a>.

  • Sheriff Joe Arpaio Says Latinos "Love Him" As Latino Journalists Berates Him On TV

    Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, famous for the zealous crackdowns on illegal immigration that have led to investigations by the Justice Department and a civil lawsuit, says that he's "never had any problems with a Latino" and that Hispanics "love" him. (The Latinos imprisoned in Arpaio's Tent City might disagree.)

  • Adam Carolla Goes On Rambling Anti-Mexican Rant

    In a rambling diatribe that overuses the word "culture," Comedian Adam Carolla railed against the California school system because it's "full of Mexicans" who he says don't like to study. An educated person might take a closer look. Mexico has the second-highest education attainment levels in Latin America behind Chile, <a href="http://www.economist.com/node/18682699">The Economist reports, citing an annual survey commissioned by the OECD</a>. Immigrant students, however, face particular obstacles, ranging from language barriers to poverty. "As a result," <a href="http://www.oecd.org/pisa/pisainfocus/pisa%20in%20focus%20n%C2%B022%20(eng)--Final%20bis.pdf">the authors of an OECD education study write</a>, "immigrant students often have to overcome multiple barriers at once in order to succeed at school: a language barrier, their own immigrant status, a disadvantaged background – and the fact that many of their classmates are struggling to surmount these same obstacles to success at school." <a href="http://www.latinorebels.com/2012/12/01/adam-carollas-mind-boggling-anti-mexican-rant-explicit/">H/T: Latino Rebels.</a>