Rafu Wire and Staff Reports

In the wake of the filing of federal felony racketeering and bribery charges against Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar, Council President Nury Martinez issued the following statement on June 23:

Council President Nury Martinez

“Today, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously [14-0] to suspend Jose Huizar from office, which under the City Charter, we have the right and duty to execute whenever an elected official is charged with a felony.

“My immediate concern is to ensure the good people of Council District 14 have representation, assistance and support through whatever occurs next. I am in discussions with 14th District Councilmember-elect Kevin De Leon on what is the best path forward for Council District 14.

“We take a solemn and sacred oath to uphold the public’s trust and be good and faithful servants. Today’s arrest of a duly elected city councilmember is a stain on our city government, but it should serve as a reminder that no one is above the law.”

Huizar, who has been in office since 2005, represents District 14, which includes Downtown, Little Tokyo, the Arts District, Lincoln Heights, Boyle Heights, El Sereno, Eagle Rock, Highland Park and Glassell Park. He was ineligible to run for re-election due to term limits.

His wife, Richelle, had planned to run for his seat, but after the couple’s residence and two of the councilman’s offices were searched by the FBI in 2018, she dropped out of the race.

De Leon, former president of the State Senate, won the District 14 election in March, but is not scheduled to take office until December.

On June 29, Controller Ron Galperin moved to terminate the councilman’s city salary payments, saying that per the City Charter, a council member who has been suspended cannot continue to draw a paycheck from the local government.

“While I believe strongly in the principle that all persons are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, the shocking information about Mr. Huizar’s misconduct is an unacceptable violation of the public trust,” Galperin said in a memo to City Clerk Holly Wolcott. “As such, he should not and will not continue to receive any salary payments from my office and from the treasury of the people of Los Angeles.”

The payroll section of the Controller’s Office is responsible for paying the salaries of all city employees and elected officials.

Huizar, 51, is accused of accepting $1.5 million in bribes from developers in exchange for his support of Downtown building projects. He was stripped of all his committee assignments in November 2018, following the FBI raids, and had recently scaled back his legislative activity at Martinez’s request.

Huizar is scheduled to be arraigned on July 20.

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