Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa strongly defended his decision to pose for a photograph with controversial actor Charlie Sheen saying he is in the “picture taking business” and that he had simply bumped into the actor while on vacation in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
“I had a three minute conversation with him, I took a picture… I take a picture every single day, 50 times, and I took a picture with him. I have never said no to anyone who wanted to take a picture,” Villaraigosa said.
The comments were made during an exclusive interview on NBC4LA’s “News Conference” program Sunday.
Sheen posted the photograph on his Twitter account, and it was picked up by news organizations around the country.
Along with the photo, Sheen wrote: “From Boyle Heights 2 Mayor of LA! Antonio Villaraigosa knows how to party.”
It made news just before the new year, as Congress and the White house were closing in on the so called “fiscal cliff” in Washington. Failure to reach a deal could have cost Los Angeles over $100 million dollar in revenue sharing funds, officials have said.
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Villaraigosa expressed frustration with news media coverage of the tweeted photograph of him with Sheen.
“You're in that business of making people look bad, of creating some kind of caricature” he said in the interview. “I’m not in that business.
"I was on vacation," the mayor continued. "I deserve a vacation.”
Villaraigosa has six months left in office and has been rumored to be in line for the position of Secretary of Transportation in the second Obama administration.
Asked if he had been in contact about such an appointment Villaraigosa refused to say.
“I’m not going to tell you what conversations I’ve had with them," he said. "I want to finish the job I have.”
Villaraigosa went on to criticize the Los Angeles Times for focusing on his private life, rather than his accomplishments. In particular, he complained that the newspaper wrote about personal issues instead of concentrating on his work on the “America Fast Forward” legislation in Washington, which was designed to fast track transit projects.
“The day they talked about a break-up I had with an ex-girlfriend was the day I helped spearhead and pass ‘America Fast Forward,’ " Villaraigosa said. "Do you think they covered that in the LA Times? No.”
Villaraigosa refused to say if he thought the breakup of his marriage was the turning point in his press coverage. “My divorce was obviously not pretty, but other than that this stuff is silliness.”