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PerezPhoto.JPGAssembly Speaker John A. Pérez is accepting "full responsibility" for mischaracterizations in recent years that he graduated from the University of California, Berkeley.

The Los Angeles Democrat's Assembly Web site says he "attended" UC Berkeley but does not indicate whether he got a degree. In a written statement, he said he regrets not doing enough to correct accounts that he graduated.

"I take full responsibility for this mistake, and I regret it," Pérez said.

Robin Swanson, Perez's spokeswoman, said today that he left UC Berkeley for financial and family reasons after attending for about four years.

The issue was raised this week in a report by California Watch, which noted numerous occasions that Perez did not appear to challenge public statements or press releases that said he is a UC graduate.

California Watch reported that:

• In 2004, U.S. Rep. Hilda Solis inserted remarks in the Congressional Record that included the sentence, "After graduating from the University of California Berkeley, John began working on designing and organizing education programs."

• Over a number of years, three biographies distributed by the Los Angeles mayor's identified Perez as a UC Berkeley graduate, as did a press release from then-Gov. Gray Davis when he was named to a state elections board.

In his written statement late Thursday night, Perez said that he takes responsibility not only for the initial mischaracterization but "any other mischaracterizations about this that I or others may have made."

When Perez was named Assembly speaker in December 2009, his office did not try to hide his educational background. In response to a question from The Bee, aides said he attended but did not graduate from the school.

"I was surprised that these questions were raised because over the last several years as a candidate and legislator, I have worked to correct the record," Perez's statement said about the California Watch report.

"But obviously I wasn't diligent enough," he said.

PHOTO CREDIT: Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles, talks about the California budget at the state Capitol on Tuesday, May 11, 2010. Hector Amezcua, Sacramento Bee.


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