In the Wake of FBI Arrests at LA City Hall, Common Cause Calls for Reforms to End Corruption

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LOS ANGELES – June 29, 2020. On the steps of Los Angeles City Hall this morning, California Common Cause called for the City to react to one of the largest scandals in recent political history with sweeping anti-corruption reforms.

Rarely has Los Angeles demonstrated a need for anti-corruption reform more than today. With the FBI’s ongoing corruption probe at L.A. City Hall including recent indictments of City Councilmember Jose Huizar on June 23 and former City Councilmember Mitch Englander on March 27, Angelenos need swift action to restore faith in our local government. The broad nature of the charges makes clear that Los Angeles has a systemic problem that can only be addressed through robust, comprehensive reform.

Statement of Jonathan Mehta Stein, Executive Director, California Common Cause
“We can no longer ignore corruption in Los Angeles. We need broad changes that will restore L.A. residents’ trust in their government. We need to reform how campaigns are funded and how money flows in our politics, and we need to strengthen the City’s watchdogs. Angelenos deserve a government that works for all its residents, not just those in power and their wealthy, special interest backers.

Councilmember David Ryu, who also spoke at City Hall today, is calling for an Inspector General with the power to oversee, investigate and subpoena councilmembers, especially over land use decisions. He also introduced a motion to change the City Charter to remove the power city councilmembers have to interfere in City Planning Commission decisions.

California Common Cause calls on City Council to advance reforms and is eager to evaluate various proposals introduced by City Councilmembers. In addition to considering these proposals, we believe Council should consider banning fundraising and bundling by developers, lobbyists, bidders, and contractors, and banning elected officials from soliciting behested payments from the same. These were proposals put forward by the L.A. Ethics Commission in the past but not taken up by Council. We live with the results of that inaction today.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice have led a deep corruption probe into the City of Los Angeles that has led to the arrest of Councilmembers Huizar and Englander among others. The FBI and DOJ claim that Huizar led a massive pay-to-play scheme, taking bribes from real estate developers, campaign donations, and other gifts to enrich himself in exchange for support of their projects.

California Common Cause believes major reforms are essential to respond to this scandal, and that such reforms should be examined in dialogue with Los Angeles city residents, to ensure reforms will reduce outside influence and make City Hall work for the people.
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