Tue, May

Hey Kevin, Don’t Bend Over!

THE EASTSIDER - Boy, what a difference a year or so makes in LA Politics.  This one has to do with Kevin De Leon and his buddy Miguel Santiago. 

In one of those only in LA moments, back in November 2021, they were sleeping together:

“Recently, he used the Tiny Home Village in Highland Park opening as his backdrop, along with political pal Miguel Santiago (AD 53). Santiago’s Assembly District includes the downtown area. As ABC put it. 

“HIGHLAND PARK, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- To raise awareness of efforts to combat homelessness, a California state assemblyman and Los Angeles city councilman slept overnight Wednesday at the Arroyo Seco Tiny Home Village in Highland Park, the largest facility of its kind in the U.S.

The Tiny Home Village sits on nearly 7 acres and includes 117 units.

Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de León and Assemblyman Miguel Santiago spent the night at the location, ahead of its official opening as a transitional-housing site.

De León and Santiago had dinner at the facility and showered there, hoping to understand what it will be like for people who will begin moving into the homes in two weeks.” 

Around the same time, they were also jointly supporting legislation in Sacramento to ask the Legislature and the Governor to “invest” $20 billion dollars over five years to cope with homelessness. 

Guess Who’s Coming for Dinner

On April 7th, one of the premier Democrat consulting groups (jzstrategies) sent an  announcement with the heading that “Miguel Santiago Wins First Labor Endorsement Minutes After Launching CD-14 Bid” 

That opening announcement, has quickly been followed by: 

“SEIU 121RN Sides With Miguel Santiago For LA City Council” (April 12), and 

“SEIU CIR Backs Miguel Santiago For CD 14” (April 14), and

“Santiago Grows Working Families Coalition in CD 14 Bid” (April 17)

It is clear that Santiago’s entry into the race is a serious bid.  Plus, probably, an attempt to freeze out other politicians who are thinking about running. 

About Miguel Santiago

Miguel is not a newcomer to LA Democratic politics. Back in 2008 he was appointed to the LA Community College District Board of Trustees. In 2011 he became Board President. 

And to fill out the resume, he was also the Corresponding Secretary for the Los Angeles County Dems, and Chair of Campaign Services. 

Then, back in 2014, he ran for the 53rd Assembly District, handily beating his runoff  candidate, Sandra Mendoza, by a large margin.  Although she came closer in the 2016 election, he still defeated Sandra by almost 20%. 

In 2018, he had to go through a runoff, but this time he beat his opponent 71% to 27%. In his last election, in 2020, things got more interesting.  

As I wrote while covering the 2020 elections in LA, I noted: 

“In AD43, Maxine Waters is pretty much a shoo-in to be re-elected, so we won’t spend too much time there. AD 53, however, and its incumbent Miguel Santiago is trying to talk about all the great things he has done for us. 

Don’t misunderstand, the Assemblymember is bright, articulate, and smooth. On the flip side, let’s look at what Santiago did with his Supermajority Democrats in Sacramento involving us here in LA. 

First, how about the “gut and amend” process that “gave us” SB 905, aka, the Bar Bill, which okays selling booze until 4 a.m. If you look at the bill itself, the principle coauthor was Assembly Member Santiago. 

Second, how about selling out renters? When it came to his votes on two bills in 2018 that would help protect renters, Miguel (and Wendy Carrillo) took a pass to kill the bills. You can find the CityWatch article here

“On May 31, two bills aiming to prevent arbitrary evictions of renters and close a commonly used loophole for displacing tenants -- AB 2925 and AB 2364 -- died when several Democratic Assembly members chose to ignore the housing crisis and voted against our most basic interests.”  

I can’t help pointing out that in the primary, an unknown outsider, Godfrey Santos Plata, gave Santiago a run.  With virtually no money, the very progressive community organizer Godfrey got over 37% of the vote against a corporate backed dem who was and is one of the lifer democratic parties finest. 

Godfrey would then go on to be one of three organizers with LA Forward, with the core belief that we, the troops, need to organize Council District by Council District to stop the hold that corruption has in our current City Council System.  You can find more about them here

The Takeaway

I think Miguel Santiago’s early entry into the race is indicative of two things. First, the Democratic Party knows that Kevin De Leon is a terrible stain on the Democratic Party.  Second, he controls a hell of a lot of money through his City ‘discretionary’ funds, and has already shown that he’s perfectly happy to buy votes through handing out the dollars. 

As I wrote in an earlier piece. 

“As I write this article I’m looking at a photograph of a letter dated January 10 2023, on Kevin De Leon’s letterhead, authorizing a check in the amount of $480,000 to World Harvest Charities & Family Services “out of my AB1290 COVID 19 account as a lump sum advance.”  


“Included in the Exhibits to the lawsuit is one I found particularly interesting. In FY 21-22, it looks like Kevin was handing out checks for around $5000 a pop to make nice to all the local non-profits and businesses. Heck, he gave over $10,000 to TERA. 

Honestly, the exhibit is a gold mine and demonstrates everything that we have known but could not prove about De Leon. He’s a walkin’ talkin’ crook on the loose”. 

I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t know about the legality of all this, but it sure smells very bad and paints the California Democratic Party in a very bad light. 

My guess is that the Party doesn’t want to risk turning voters off, and has gathered around Miguel Santiago to take Kevin out. 

Stay tuned...


(Tony Butka is an Eastside community activist, who has served on a neighborhood council, has a background in government and is a contributor to CityWatchLA.)