Photo collage illustration of L.A. City Council members with city hall in the center.

(Illustration: Jim Cooke / Los Angeles Instances; pictures: Carolyn Cole, Al Seib, Mel Melcon, Gary Coronado, Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Instances; Walt Mancini / The Orange County Register through AP)

The current leak of a recording that uncovered a few of Los Angeles’ high officers making abhorrent racist feedback, disparaging a number of racial and ethnic teams, has rocked the Metropolis of Angels.

However Metropolis Corridor isn’t any stranger to scandal — with many elected leaders and officers nonetheless going through the fallout from prior missteps, together with three present or former council members who’ve been charged with federal crimes.

For anybody new to the mayhem in L.A. politics, here is a fast refresher of among the most memorable — or maybe notorious — scandals in current historical past. Buckle up.

Gil Cedillo, from left, Nury Martinez and Kevin de León

(Pictures: Carolyn Cole, Al Seib / Los Angeles Instances)

The racist leaked audio

The Los Angeles political world has been roiled this week by audio from a 2021 closed-door assembly amongst among the metropolis’s strongest Latino leaders discussing town’s redistricting course of. Many have since raised issues about their dialogue about methods to increase their political energy amid a contentious redistricting course of, however it’s the racist feedback the group flippantly shared which have sparked an onslaught of concern and condemnation from Angelenos all the best way to the White Home.

Within the clip, then-Metropolis Council President Nury Martinez disparaged a white council member’s Black son, utilizing a Spanish phrase which means “appears to be like like a monkey” and suggesting the kid wanted to be overwhelmed to make him behave. She mentioned the council member handled his son like an “accent,” and Councilmember Kevin de León later appeared to check the council member’s dealing with of his baby to Martinez holding a Louis Vuitton purse. The dialog additionally included Councilmember Gil Cedillo and Ron Herrera, then-president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.

In the identical dialog, Martinez can be heard making bigoted and crude remarks about Oaxacans, Jews and Armenians.

Whereas requires the council members to resign have been swift and loud, De León and Cedillo stay of their seats. Martinez lastly resigned Wednesday

Herrera resigned Monday evening.

After the bombshell recording went public, the California legal professional normal mentioned his workplace will open an investigation into town’s redistricting course of, which final yr redrew strains for the 15-seat Metropolis Council.

Mark Ridley-Thomas

(Photograph: Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Instances)

The USC kickback scheme

One in every of Los Angeles’ most outstanding political figures, suspended Metropolis Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas, was indicted final yr together with a former USC dean on federal costs that he took bribes from the dean in change for steering tens of millions in public funding to the college.

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Prosecutors say the kickback scheme occurred when Ridley-Thomas sat on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors in 2017, earlier than he joined the Metropolis Council — from which he was later suspended. He has pleaded not responsible within the case, which stays ongoing.

Marilyn Louise Flynn, the previous dean of USC’s Faculty of Social Work, lately struck a plea deal, admitting to bribery in case. She mentioned she agreed to route cash from Ridley-Thomas’ marketing campaign by the college into his son’s nonprofit in an effort to disguise the origins of the funds. In return, she mentioned Ridley-Thomas agreed to safe the renewal of an L.A. County contract for USC’s on-line psychological well being clinic. The alleged quid professional quo additionally included admission of Ridley-Thomas’ son to the college on a full-tuition scholarship and a paid professorship.

Mayor Eric Garcetti

(Photograph: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Instances)

Mayor’s workplace allegations

In 2020, a Los Angeles police officer who served as a bodyguard for Mayor Eric Garcetti sued town, alleging that he was repeatedly sexually harassed by one of many mayor’s high advisors. The swimsuit claims that Garcetti witnessed among the inappropriate habits, together with crude feedback and undesirable touching, however didn’t intervene. The mayor denies the claims.

Months later, Garcetti’s chief of employees, Ana Guerrero, stepped down from her submit after The Instances reported she disparaged labor icon Dolores Huerta in personal Fb group. Guerrero made feedback within the social media platform, saying “I hate her” and used a Spanish time period that interprets to “jealous outdated girl.”

Guerrero was positioned on unpaid depart from Garcetti’s workplace after the incident got here to gentle in June 2021, although she lately returned as a high advisor.

The incident, together with the allegations about Jacobs, introduced scrutiny to his workplace’s office tradition.

Jose Huizar and Mitchell Englander

(Pictures: Walt Mancini/The Orange County Register through AP; Al Seib / Los Angeles Instances)

‘Pay-to-play’ scheme

A sprawling federal corruption investigation wanting into doable bribery, extortion, cash laundering and different crimes landed one former council member in jail and has one other nonetheless preventing prison costs in opposition to him.

Former Metropolis Councilmember Mitchell Englander was sentenced in 2021 to 14 months in jail after being convicted of mendacity to federal authorities about his dealings with a businessman who offered him $15,000 in secret money funds and a debauched evening in Las Vegas.

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Englander’s case, although, is a component of a bigger probe into an alleged “pay-to-play” scheme, which has centered on former Councilmember Jose Huizar. It first gained public consideration in 2018 when FBI brokers raided the then-council member’s house and workplace.

Huizar was later arrested and is going through federal costs on allegations that he repeatedly took money bribes and marketing campaign donations from actual property builders in change for assist getting growth initiatives by town’s arduous approval course of. He has pleaded not responsible.

Huizar’s former particular assistant, George Esparza, his older brother, a lobbyist and two actual property consultants have already pleaded responsible to federal crimes within the alleged scheme. Esparza admitted receiving lavish perks — journeys to Vegas and Australia, costly meals and escort companies — from a developer seeking to construct a 77-story skyscraper, whereas additionally accepting $8,000 to $10,000 monthly from the businessman who offered Englander with money. Salvador Huizar, the council member’s brother, admitted this week that he obtained envelopes of money from his brother, who informed him to write down checks for a similar quantity from his personal checking account.

Additionally going through costs within the plot is Raymond Chan, a former deputy mayor to Garcetti who centered on financial growth. He’s accused of an array of unlawful actions, together with arranging “oblique bribe funds” to key metropolis officers by securing employment contracts for the officers’ kinfolk, prosecutors declare.

Dealings by L.A. Water and Energy executives

Not less than two officers with the Los Angeles Division of Water and Energy, one former high-level lawyer in Metropolis Atty. Mike Feuer’s workplace and an legal professional employed by town have been charged in a special federal probe, wherein prosecutors say DWP officers and metropolis attorneys took half in varied crimes, together with aiding and abetting extortion and bribery.

Feuer mentioned he had been unaware of any unethical or unlawful habits involving his attorneys and shortly condemned such actions after the scheme was uncovered.

Thomas Peters, Feuer’s former civil litigation chief, earlier this yr admitted in a plea deal that he orchestrated a payoff to somebody threatening to disclose damaging details about how metropolis attorneys dealt with a DWP lawsuit over defective billing. Prosecutors mentioned town’s authorized crew colluded with the attorneys representing DWP ratepayers.

The former DWP high government, David Wright, took half in a associated scheme, overseeing a $30-million DWP contract with an outdoor firm, which, in return, promised Wright a job on the firm upon retirement at a $1-million wage, and entry to a Mercedes-Benz.

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Mayor Eric Garcetti, Joe Buscaino Mitch Englander, Nury Martinez, Jose Huizar and Gil Cedillo

(pictures by: Mel Melcon, Gary Coronado, Al Seib / Los Angeles Instances)

Unlawful developer donations

Greater than seven native politicians, most from Metropolis Corridor, obtained donations from a Torrance-based developer lobbying public officers to approve a brand new condominium complicated. The developer was later convicted of felony conspiracy within the marketing campaign cash laundering case.

A 2016 Instances investigation discovered {that a} sprawling community of greater than 100 individuals and corporations with direct or oblique ties to the developer, Samuel Leung, made political donations totaling greater than $600,000 to the seven politicians over six years whereas Leung’s growth was below overview. The condominium complicated was later accepted.

These donations turned the topic of a joint investigation by the D.A.’s workplace, the FBI, the U.S. legal professional’s workplace and the Ethics Fee, which discovered donations to the politicians usually got here from unlikely sources, a few of whom mentioned that they had no data of contributions made of their title — violating marketing campaign finance regulation.

Information present Mayor Garcetti, present and former Councilmembers Joe Buscaino, Englander, Martinez, Huizar and Cedillo, in addition to County Supervisor Janice Hahn, all obtained substantial donations linked to Leung, typically receiving the cash as they have been poised to make key selections concerning the growth.

Leung pleaded responsible in 2020. No elected officers have been charged within the case.

Nury Martinez

(Photograph: Al Seib / Los Angeles Instances)

Feds and county probed marketing campaign contributions

Former council President Martinez‘s 2015 reelection marketing campaign was the goal of each a federal and native investigation, although she and her employees have been by no means charged criminally.

Federal prosecutors started probing Martinez’s marketing campaign in 2015, issuing subpoenas to a lot of her staffers and later questioning donors who gave small quantities to assist the reelection.

These donors have been key to Martinez’s marketing campaign, demonstrating grass-roots assist that allowed her to qualify for a a lot bigger pool of taxpayer-funded matching {dollars}. Officers with L.A.’s district legal professional’s workplace additionally centered on these smaller donations, investigating an allegation of fraud.

Though the district legal professional’s Public Integrity Division decided “that among the $5 donations weren’t made by the purported donor,” investigators mentioned “the proof was inadequate to show who was in the end accountable.”

Instances employees writers Dakota Smith, Emily Alpert Reyes, David Zahniser, Benjamin Oreskes, Julia Wick, Michael Finnegan, Matt Hamilton, Harriet Ryan and Richard Winton contributed to this report.

This story initially appeared in Los Angeles Instances.

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