Glendale school board member and 43rd Assembly District canddaite Greg Krikorian at a graduation ceremony this summer.

Glendale school board member and 43rd Assembly District canddaite Greg Krikorian at a graduation ceremony this summer. (Times Community News / July 18, 2012)

Greg Krikorian, a Glendale school board member challenging Assemblyman Mike Gatto in the 43rd district, defended his financial record Tuesday, calling the fact that he and his wife had to get through bankruptcy protection after incurring more than $49,000 in credit card debt a “little minor incident.”

His comments during a public school board meeting came three weeks after the News-Press reported that he and his wife, Christine, emerged from Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection last year after the debt was discharged by a U.S. District bankruptcy court judge in August 2011.

Krikorian, a Republican, is campaigning as a fiscal conservative, and in a statement on his election website lambastes Sacramento for spending “far in excess of what we take in.”

Speaking from his seat on the dais Tuesday, Greg Krikorian called the News-Press report “misleading” and claimed it was a product of mudslinging from Gatto’s camp.

He also stated his home is worth considerably more than what is listed in Los Angeles County assessor’s office records — a figure quoted in the story.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court records show that as late as March 2011, the majority of the Krikorian household's debt — roughly $47,000 — was owed to Bank of America, Capital One and Citibank, which filed claims between 2000 and 2004. The remaining debt was spread across several much smaller creditors.

The couple, who have five children, were able to discharge the debt completely because they qualified for Chapter 7 protection under a calculation that takes into consideration income and household size.

During the school board meeting, Greg Krikorian questioned the alleged tactics of Gatto, a Democrat, and his supporters.

“When you start bringing in family members and trying to expose my wife or the most recent thing, going to Cal Poly and checking my son’s grades, I question people that support a person like that,” he said.

The Krikorians’ son is on the dean’s list at the college.

Mike Shimpock, Gatto’s campaign consultant, said neither Gatto nor anyone from his staff has contacted Cal Poly Pomona, nor have they attempted determine if his mortgage is up-to-date — an allegation Krikorian also lobbed from the dais.

“Even if we did, there are privacy laws,” Shimpock said.

But Krikorian’s criticism didn’t stop with Gatto. He went on to question the allegiance of his own supporters.

“It even comes to the point where I question my own friends that I’ve been with for many years, where they stand,” he said. “I think what’s more hurtful is that when you reach out for friends to stand beside you in a time of need, sometimes they’re nowhere to be found.”

He added, however, that his wife has received phone calls of support and encouragement from friends.

Greg Krikorian said he hopes people in the community will remember the good work he’s done the last 12 years on the school board during the ensuing Assembly race.

“I’ve been a strong financial steward of our dollars,” he said.

While he would have preferred to not address the bankruptcy situation during a school board meeting, Greg Krikorian said he received emails from “a lot” of people questioning his wife’s actions.

In previous interviews, he has attributed the debt accumulation to being unaware of his wife’s separate credit card spending.

“[They’re] saying Christine probably wasted it on jewelry or wasted it on this or wasted it on that. It was appalling,” he said.

Speaking from the dais to his wife, who he said may have been watching the televised meeting, Greg Krikorian stressed that he continues to support her.

“You’re one great woman. You did nothing wrong. And you’re just like any other American trying to get by and make your life worthwhile,” he said.

-- Staff writer Megan O'Neil contributed reporting