KTLA is reportedly moving Lu Parker from general assignment reporter to special correspondent. Parker, whose position with the station has been under scrutiny since it came to light last year that she was dating Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, is framing the change as an opportunity to pursue projects outside of journalism.
“I am excited at this juncture of my career and am grateful to KTLA for supporting my wishes to evolve in new areas,” Parker said in a statement.
Parker, a former Miss U.S.A., began a romantic relationship with Mayor Villaraigosa in March of 2009 after his 20-year marriage dissolved due to an extramarital affair he had with Mirthala Salinas, another local reporter. KTLA was not made aware of the relationship until late May, at which point the CW-affiliate took Parker off of the local politics beat. During the first months of their relationship, though, Parker filed a handful of stories about the mayor yet KTLA has insisted that her journalistic ethics were never in jeopardy. “There is no concern as to the ethics whatsoever,” KTLA GM Don Corsini said at the time.
It appears that Parker’s change in position is less about continued ethics concerns and more about her personal pursuits outside of TV news. This year she launched the Lu Parker Project, a nonprofit organization that strives to improve the lives of homeless animals and at-risk youth. The plight of abandoned animals, especially dogs, has been a major concern for Parker in recent years. She is a regular volunteer at a South Los Angeles animal shelter and has done several reports on animal rights for KTLA.