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Two San Gabriel Valley Assembly candidates under fire

Incumbent Roger Hernandez in the 48th District is accused of physically abusing a woman. Candidate Edwin Chau in the 49th District is accused of releasing the Social Security number of his foe's wife.

October 30, 2012|By Patrick McGreevy and Michael J. Mishak, Los Angeles Times
  • Roger Hernandez, left, and Edwin Chau -- California Assembly candidates in the San Gabriel Valley -- are facing allegations of misbehavior.
Roger Hernandez, left, and Edwin Chau -- California Assembly candidates… (Associated Press / Los Angeles…)

SACRAMENTO — With election day looming, two state Assembly candidates in the San Gabriel Valley are under fire for alleged misbehavior.

Voters will decide Tuesday whether to award another term to an incumbent assemblyman who has had an emergency protective order issued against him. In a neighboring district, they will consider a candidate who has been sued for publicizing the Social Security number of his opponent's spouse.

Unflattering headlines are not new to one of the candidates, Assemblyman Roger Hernandez (D-West Covina), who is part of the Assembly Democrats' leadership team. Hernandez last drew unwelcome attention with a DUI charge in Northern California in March. He was acquitted of that charge.

But the protective order, filed against him by a woman who alleged that he had physically abused her, was granted by a court commissioner Sunday night. The woman requested it, police said, after an altercation that evening at the Lazy Dog restaurant in West Covina. Hernandez left the restaurant before police arrived.

The order cites an incident in July. The woman alleged that Hernandez had "struck her with a belt during an argument" at that time and "shoved her against the wall, causing visible injuries." She also alleged that he used cocaine.

West Covina Police Chief Frank Wills said the police had no report of the alleged incident from July.

The allegations in the protective order are "completely false," said Anthony J. Falangetti, an attorney for Hernandez.

"He is innocent," the attorney said. "The claims of drug use are ridiculous."

On Tuesday, Wills said he handed the woman's allegations to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department for investigation because of a past dispute between Hernandez, a former West Covina councilman, and his department.

Hernandez is seeking election in the newly drawn 48th Assembly District against retired Santa Monica Police Officer Joe M. Gardner. Falangetti said the timing of the accusations "is obviously designed to hurt the assemblyman in an election that is just a week away.''

A dispute in the adjacent 49th Assembly District involves Republican surgeon Matthew Lin of San Gabriel and his opponent, Democratic educator and business owner Edwin "Ed" Chau of Alhambra.

Chau's campaign sent out a mail advertisement and posted a campaign ad on YouTube that attacked Lin's handling of his personal finances and showed a Notice of State Tax Lien that includes the Social Security number of Lin's wife, Joy.

Joy Lin's attorney sued Chau on Friday, accusing him of invasion of privacy. Matthew Lin said that the tax lien was cleared up long ago and that it was improper to put his wife's Social Security number in campaign material.

"She has no position in the campaign," Matthew Lin said. "They crossed the line."

Josh Pulliam, a campaign official for Chau, said inclusion of the Social Security number was inadvertent. He said the mailer was distributed eight weeks ago and has not been repeated, and the campaign offered to pay for identity-theft protection for Joy Lin.

The YouTube video was taken down within 10 minutes of The Times asking Pulliam about it Tuesday afternoon. Still, Pulliam said the campaign is on strong legal ground because it reproduced documents that were already public.

He criticized the lawsuit.

"Clearly it's politically motivated to try to get headlines," Pulliam said.

patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

michael.mishak@latimes.com

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