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Antonio Villaraigosa

For several months, the WP entry on Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa ("AV") omitted the key fact that when he was a student at UCLA he was a leader of the extremist group MEChA [1] and he was a campus radical [2]. It also claimed that he was an "attorney" (linking to the /Lawyer article), a statement that is at the least highly misleading. [3] This biased entry has high rankings [4], and may have played some small role in his winning the mayoral seat on May 17, 2005.

One of the frequent "contributors" to the WP entry uses the name "Will Beback", which will be abbreviated below as "WBB". That same user has other aliases pointing to the first name, and those have edited the entry and the talk page as well: "Willmcw" and "User2004". His real name is allegedly given here.

[1] /MEChA

[2] http://www.bruinalumni.com/antonio/antonioindex.html

[3] When someone hears someone described as a "lawyer" or an "attorney", most of them will automatically assume that that means they're licensed to practice law. Whether AV is or ever was so licensed is not clear, and it appears that he never was. On 2/20/07 I called the California State Bar, and was informed that no one with his name (in either the current or the Villar form) had passed the bar. On the same day, a phone call to his office had a staffer repeatedly saying that he had passed it, however I suspect that she was just misinformed. The May. 23, 2006 Daily Journal article "Raising the Bar and the Meaning of Success" by Anna Oberthur (PDF) doesn't answer the question, but says:

Bar exam hopefuls striving for a different style of fame should look to Villaraigosa, whose four failed attempts to pass the bar haven't hindered his successful political career. Villaraigosa, Los Angeles' first Hispanic mayor in more than a century, took office last summer after serving on the Los Angeles City Council and as speaker of the state Assembly. The mayor's office didn't respond to the Daily Journal's inquiries. But when contacted by the Los Angeles Times on the topic, the newspaper reported that Villaraigosa was unable to explain the failures. "All I can tell you is that I failed four times," Villaraigosa told the Los Angeles Times earlier this year.

A December 1, 2006 Los Angeles Magazine article by Kevin Roderick says:

He graduated from the nontraditional People's College of Law but could never pass the bar exam.

And, from the California Bar Association's Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 1-100(B)(3) (link):

"Lawyer" means a member of the State Bar of California or a person who is admitted in good standing of and eligible to practice before the bar of any United States court or the highest court of the District of Columbia or any state, territory, or insular possession of the United States, or is licensed to practice law in, or is admitted in good standing and eligible to practice before the bar of the highest court of, a foreign country or any political subdivision thereof.

His bio (lacity.org/mayor/bio1.htm) says:

...Villaraigosa graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High School and attended UCLA, where he received a B.A. degree in history. He is a graduate of the People's College of Law. After law school, he served as a field representative/organizer with the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA)...

The People's College of Law is unaccredited, and it isn't clear how many times he tried to pass the bar, whether he ever did and then whether he became a lawyer, either of the practicing or just licensed variety. The preceding link claims that he tried to pass four times, failing each time and thus never was licensed to practice law. The California Business and Professions Code is quite clear on this point: 6125. No person shall practice law in California unless the person is an active member of the State Bar. Unfortunately, the exact definition of "lawyer" and "attorney" are not given, and there may be technical wiggle room with the last word, but it is clear that if Villaraigosa did not pass the exam, and then had presented himself as someone licensed to practice law in the state, he would be misrepresenting himself and breaking the law. Note, of course, that his biography does not claim that he worked for UTLA in a legal capacity, only as a "field representative/organizer".

[4] As of 2/19/07, the WP entry is #2 on a Google search for his name in quotes, second only to lacity.org/mayor. And, when biography is appended to his name in quotes and searched in Google, the entry has two slots: first and third, with laalmanac.com/government/gl12.htm in second place and lacity.org/mayor/bio1.htm in fourth place, behind both WP entries.