Richard C. Blum, the multimillionaire husband of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), on Thursday accused state Sen. Tom Hayden (D-Los Angeles) of libeling him and demanded an apology for statements Hayden made Tuesday linking Feinstein's endorsement of Los Angeles Mayor Richard J. Riordan to Blum's financial portfolio.
"I'm sorry if I hurt his feelings," Hayden replied at a news conference. But rather than retract his comments about Blum's investment in a construction company that is building the subway for L.A.'s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Hayden criticized Blum's attorney for misstating the name of the worker, Jaime Pasillas, who was recently killed in the subway tunnel.
Riordan sits on the MTA board and appoints three of its members.
"I will not stop talking about it until you give back every dollar you have made, every filthy dollar . . . that you have made off of this tunnel and you turn over all that money to the family of Mr. Jaime Pasillas," Hayden, who is challenging Riordan in the April 8 election, said in comments directed at Blum. "This was a preventable death. The Pasillas family is suing the MTA for $50 million. I don't want the public to pay for this. I want Riordan and Blum to pay for this."
In a letter to Hayden, attorney Michael R. Klein says Blum "has no investments in the MTA subway tunnel" and "no connection to the quality of the performance of the work of any contractor" working on the tunnel. Though Blum does own 37% of Perini Corp., which has a joint venture with Tutor-Saliba to work on the tunnel, Klein notes that Tutor-Saliba/Perini got the MTA contract before Blum's investment deal was finalized.
"I'm amazed that mayoral candidate Tom Hayden would try to politicize a tragic death of an MTA worker for his own political gain," Feinstein said in a written statement Thursday. "Tom Hayden's actions confirm yet again why Dick Riordan should be reelected."
But Hayden said that by his investment, Blum is "morally responsible and institutionally responsible for the safety of the workers." Asked whether this scuffle is distracting from the issues of the mayor's race, he added: "This is what the mayor's race is about. It's about Riordan and Blum and big money and scandal."