By Chris Kramer
Last week Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa held a press conference and publicly took responsibility for the failure of his 20 year marriage. He would not answer questions or comment on what caused the split. He praised his wife as an exceptional human being and wonderful mother. When asked if an affair led to the separation he tersely answered, "Those kind of questions are inappropriate, and I won't answer them. My family and I have the right during this difficult time to go through this process free of that kind of speculation."
The next day, his wife made it official by filing for divorce citing "irreconcilable differences" as the reason for the split. Don't all California divorces list irreconcilable differences as the reason? It certainly covers the reason for most divorces, although it gives little real information about what really went wrong in the marriage.
Back in 1994, Corina Villaraigosa had filed for divorce after learning that her husband was having an affair while she battled thyroid cancer. They remained separated for two years but eventually worked things out and she abandoned the divorce petition. This time, there has been no public word about an affair or anything else that would be the obvious reason for the split, but sources close to the mayor say that rumors have been flying and that no one is surprised by the official news of the separation.
The Villaraigosas will have to work out issues such as spousal support, child support and visitation for the couple's two children. Their oldest child, 18 year old Antonio Jr., will be going to Princeton University in the fall. Their daughter, 14 year old Natalia Fe, will attend school on the Westside.
The mayor is expected to temporarily move out of Getty House, the official residence of the mayor, and move back to the couple's home in Mount Washington. Corina and the children will remain at Getty House during a transitional period.
Mayor Villaraigosa certainly isn't the only politician who has had to endure public questions over his private matters. When a person is in the public eye, and especially when that person is an elected official, the public somehow believes they are entitled to know every detail of their lives. So no matter how personal, no matter how private or sensitive the issues regarding the Villaraigosa divorce are, the mayor can expect the public and the press to keep asking for more information.
When Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger ran for office in 2003, women came out of the woodwork to publicly accuse him of fondling and groping them during his career as a weightlifter and actor. Somehow his marriage to Maria Shriver survived seemingly unscathed.
And who can forget Gary Condit? He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1989 to 2003, but is probably best known for the Chandra Levy scandal. When Chandra Levy went missing in 2001, Gary Condit was questioned twice and denied having an affair with her both times. After Levy's aunt went public with information confirming the affair, Condit was forced to admit his relationship with Levy. He was never named a suspect in her disappearance, but the public perceived his actions as suspicious and he lost when he sought re-election in 2002. Levy's remains were found in 2002, but to date the case remains unsolved. Condit's wife has stood by him and they are still married.
Bill Clinton is probably the most famous politician ever caught in a predicament in which many of his private issues became very public. He was sued by Paula Jones for sexual harassment and later impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. He settled the sexual harassment lawsuit and was acquitted of both charges during the impeachment proceedings. Hilary Clinton still stands by her man and their marriage has endured.
Whether or not Villaraigosa has been involved in another extramarital affair which has destroyed his marriage is not currently known. It is fairly certain, though, that the privacy he seeks and requests during this difficult time for his family will be hard, if not impossible, to get.