Affair with Villaraigosa was conflict of interest

A Spanish-language newscaster who had an affair with the mayor of Los Angeles has been suspended from her job for two months for violating conflict-of-interest policies, her network said Thursday.

Mirthala Salinas was having the relationship with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa when she announced the news of his separation from his wife of 20 years on local Telemundo station KVEA, Channel 52.

Salinas was suspended after a three-week internal investigation reviewed by executives at Telemundo and parent company NBC Universal. Three Telemundo employees also were disciplined. Findings were reported on the network’s national newscast and announced by executives.

“Her reading of copy during newscasts … regarding the mayor’s separation from his wife was a flagrant violation of these guidelines,” network president Don Browne wrote in a memo to employees.

Messages left with Salinas’ representative were not immediately returned.

“I regret that decisions I have made in my personal life have been a distraction for the city, and I am deeply sorry that I have let so many people down, especially my family,” Villaraigosa said in a statement. “Now that Telemundos internal review has reached a conclusion, it is my hope that we can all move forward.”

In its newscast, Telemundo reported that others disciplined included KVEA news director Al Corral, who was suspended without pay for two months, and the station’s general manager, Manuel Abud, who was removed from his post and will be transferred to a new position still undetermined. Ibra Morales, president of Telemundo stations, will be reprimanded.

Salinas, 35, was placed on leave July 5 while her employer investigated whether her romantic relationship with Villaraigosa breached journalistic ethics.

She has said station managers knew of her relationship with the mayor before she announced the news of his breakup. Salinas led into the story by saying, “The rumors were true.”

Villaraigosa acknowledged the affair July 3. His wife, Corina Villaraigosa, filed for divorce in June.

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