Friday, October 14, 2005

Not A LES Hero: Margarita Lopez

from todays' Times: Councilwoman Margarita López, a Manhattan Democrat who has criticized Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in the past, endorsed him yesterday for a second term.The burst of mutual admiration was the latest sign of how traditional party allegiances have been shifting in the mayoral race. And Mr. Ferrer's campaign staff sought to undermine whatever influence Ms. López's endorsement might have with liberal voters."Margarita López says she doesn't like Republicans, or does she?" the Ferrer campaign said in a statement. It cited newspaper accounts of her questioning Mr. Bloomberg's decision in 2003 not to perform gay marriages, and of Mr. Bloomberg offering words of support in the same year to President Bush and his decision to invade Iraq.Unable to seek another Council term this year because of term limits, Ms. López ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for Manhattan borough president. In an interview yesterday, she said her support for Mayor Bloomberg had nothing to do with any hope she may have for another city job. "I don't engage in quid pro quos," she said. In any case, she is no stranger to controversy. This summer, The New York Post reported that Ms. López had used her influence on the City Council to steer city money to a Manhattan detoxification program co-founded by the movie star Tom Cruise, a member of the Church of Scientology, and that she then accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Scientologists.One of Ms. López's opponents, Brian Ellner, who is gay, criticized her ties to what he called a "problematic cult." Mr. Ellner suggested that the founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard, was biased against gay people. Ms. López responded that she was not aware of Mr. Hubbard's views on homosexuality, and that Scientology was entitled to city support in its mental health services, as any church would be. "People's religious beliefs are not my business," she said yesterday.

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