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First Latino Calif. Senate Leader In Over A Century Defends Pricey Inauguration Bash

LOS ANGELES ( — An unusual and elaborate swearing-in ceremony for the incoming leader of the state Senate is tonight at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles.

KNX 1070's Brian Ping reports approximately 2,000 guests have been invited to help celebrate the swearing-in of Democratic Sen. Kevin de Leon of Los Angeles, the first Latino to head the California Senate in more than a century.

The invitation lists the event as the "Inauguration of Kevin de Leon," using language usually reserved for presidents and governors, according to The Associated Press.

De Leon was elected in June and received bipartisan support from his Senate colleagues for the post.

In addition to becoming the first Latino President pro Tempore in more than 130 years, de Leon will also become the first Angeleno to hold the office since Senator David Roberti in 1993.

The California Latino Legislative Caucus Foundation, which receives donations from special interests seeking influence in the Legislature, is picking up the estimated $50,000 tab for Wednesday's bash, even as some critics say the price tag is too high for such an event.

But de Leon spokesman Anthony Reyes said it will give community members a chance to take part in the celebration of what he says is a historic moment.

"This is gonna be the first time that people that live in neighborhoods right next to [the Disney Concert Hall] are being able to go inside it and see the beautiful Frank Gehry architecture and share in this very exciting moment for the community," Reyes said.

Latino caucus spokesman Roger Salazar also disputed the perception that the event is too elaborate, The Associated Press reported.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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