Wednesday proved to be another news-filled day in the Los Angeles City Council racism scandal: Councilmember Mike Bonin announced he’d tested positive for COVID just hours after delivering an impassioned speech Tuesday in front of a packed house; former Council President Nury Martinez finally formally resigned from the council altogether after attempting to soften the outcry by first resigning only her council presidency and then taking a leave-of-absence; more audio was found in which Martinez said unflattering things about Jews and Armenians; and the scheduled council meeting was canceled because of loud protests.
Just another Wednesday in LA.
While the racist remarks have drawn the most attention, the perhaps even more sinister issue revealed by the audio is that Latino power-brokers were heard jockeying to wrestle power from other areas by dividing council districts into racially beneficial areas. This is not only obviously the height of corruption—but it also may be in violation of the law.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced Wednesday that his office would investigate:
CADOJ will investigate Los Angeles' redistricting process.
The leaked audio has cast doubt on a cornerstone of our political processes.
We will endeavor to bring the truth to light to help restore confidence in the process for the people of our state. pic.twitter.com/HpvjWf8wAp
— Rob Bonta (@AGRobBonta) October 12, 2022
The Attorney General’s website clarified exactly what they will be probing.
At this stage, the investigation will be conducted by the California Department of Justice’s Racial Justice Bureau within the Civil Rights Enforcement Section. During the course of the investigation, state attorneys will work diligently to consider all relevant information related to the city’s 2021 redistricting process and adopted map.
In other words, council members could face legal consequences for rigging the system. Bonta said, “It could lead to criminality if that’s where the facts and the law dictate. There’s certainly the potential for civil liability based on civil rights and voting rights laws here in the state of California.”
It’s unclear what would happen to the adopted map if he finds one or more of them guilty of a crime, although City Attorney Mike Feuer is calling for an independent redistricting commission that would redraw it.
BREAKING: Los Angeles City Council is at a standstill as the heads of BLM-LA and LA Tenants Union urge the council to shut down all meetings until Martinez, Cedillo and de Leon resign. Acting President O’Farrell is intent on carrying on. Officers standing with riot gear. pic.twitter.com/66FqGnYLw5
— Kate Cagle (@KateCagle) October 12, 2022
The Associated Press reports on just what went on behind those closed doors and why it’s so important:
The [leaked] discussion — which also included a powerful Latino labor leader, who has since resigned — centered on protecting Latino political power during the redrawing of council district boundaries, known as redistricting. The once-a-decade process can pit one group against another to gain political advantage in elections.
Black and Latino constituents often build alliances in politics. But tensions and rivalries among groups separated by race, geography, partisanship or religion have a long history in Los Angeles and, indeed, the country. The friction can cross into housing, education and jobs — even prisons — as well as the spoils of political power.
Here’s an example of the kind of conversations they were having about carving up the city:
At another point [in the meeting], Martinez recalls a conversation with businessman Danny Bakewell about possibly transferring Los Angeles International Airport out of [Mike] Bonin’s council district and into that of Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson.
The council president says she told Bakewell to “go get the airport from his little brother — that little bitch Bonin.”
Several questions remain, for instance: who leaked the audio? Some speculate that it’s a hyper-partisan who wants to get Democrats on the council who are even more progressive than the current ones, if you can believe that. Second, many consider Bonta to be partisan himself—will he be an honest player, or will we just see more California shenanigans? Only time will tell.
As we’ve discussed, the City of Angels has a long history of corruption, including many recent cases of misconduct—but this one may very well be the worst in many years. We’ve got you covered here at RedState, though; we’ve been covering the story extensively. Click here for insight and analysis you don’t want to miss.