LOS ANGELES — Alex Padilla blasted 7th District City Council rival Corinne Sanchez on Monday for hiring a campaign manager who was paid to help win city approval of a controversial oil pipeline through the northeast San Fernando Valley.
Helen Hernandez said Monday that she is still a paid consultant for Pacific Pipeline, but denied any link between that work and her role as Sanchez's campaign manager for the June 8 runoff election.
"I see that as very separate," Hernandez said. "I don't know what that has to do with this."
Over strong local objections, the pipeline was completed in February, carrying oil from fields in Kern County to refineries in El Segundo. The opposition was led by then-Councilman Richard Alarcon, now a Sanchez backer.
"To have a woman who promoted the pipeline and was paid well to promote it, managing the campaign of a political candidate raises serious concern about that candidate--what her priorities may be, her true commitment to the community and her understanding of the community and it's needs," said Padilla.
Hernandez said Pacific Pipeline hired her in 1997 to provide information on the project to the public.
"My whole focus was educating the public," Hernandez said. "I feel the community has to have information to be able to make decisions."
She refused to say how much she has been paid, saying only that the checks, including one received last month, are a "small retainer."
Sanchez, head of the social service agency El Proyecto Del Barrio, said the hiring of Hernandez should not be seen as any wavering of her opposition to the pipeline. Sanchez said she has rejected contributions from Pacific Pipeline.
"We can differ on some things and still have a lot of common ground," Sanchez said.