Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu resigned on Monday. Melahat Rafi, the state representative for the Democratic National Committee and secretary of the California Democratic Party, resigned a day after he announced his resignation. And Todd Ament, former CEO of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, was charged in federal court with lying about his assets while trying to buy a $ 1.5 million home in Big Bear City. And, yes, it is connected to the baseball stadium in Los Angeles.
It began last week, when a request was filed in Orange County Superior Court by the state’s attorney general’s office. It has asked the court to stop selling Angels Stadium and its adjoining parking lot to Arte Moreno, the owner of the baseball team from the town of Anaheim. Specifically, the request asked the court to close a settlement between the city and the state, which is the key to moving the agreement forward.
Multiple documents were attached, including a 41-page affidavit by FBI Special Agent Brian C. Adkins that outlined an investigation into Anaheim’s corruption, mostly centered on Sidhu. The first issue raised in the affidavit was that Sidhu had registered his helicopter in Arizona, not California, to avoid paying taxes to the state of California. But that is not all. Juicy Things is found in a later section, entitled, “Sidhu shares special privileged and confidential information with Angels during stadium sale negotiations, actively concealed from a grand jury investigation, and expects to receive campaign contributions as a result.”
The affidavit contains many details, which were posted online Los Angeles TimesBut this section summarizes what the FBI agent said:
From or around September 2019, when the City Council was discussing stadium valuation statistics during a closed session meeting, until September 2020 or so, when Anaheim and Angels agreed on terms including the final sale price and community benefits (discussed above). SIDHU appears to have provided city-specific information on the use of angels in their discussions with Anaheim on at least two specific occasions. Furthermore, SIDHU apparently did this in a secret fashion – deliberately concealing its actions from other members of the negotiating team – I believe, in part, to conceal a Brown Act violation and to avoid negative public perceptions.
In 2019, the city of Anaheim was discussing its lease with the angels. For years the town owned stadiums and parking lots and then leased them to the club. On September 24, 2019, the city agreed that it would negotiate to sell the property to the company of Artes Moreno, owner of Angels. On the same day, the city council held a closed-door session to discuss the sale of the land and stadium. An associate witness told the FBI that assessment statistics were discussed at the meeting. Witnesses then added that – before disclosing the assessment figures – Sidhu had provided the figures according to their affidavit “for sharing with the representatives of the angels”. (Except for a transcript, the co-witness has not been identified, where Sidhu calls him “Todd”.)
This was not the only example quoted in the affidavit. Adkins further wrote that on July 21, 2020, Sidhu sent an email to the co-witness and political adviser with the subject line: “4844-8343-9299.2 Key Issue – Stadium Transaction Agreement. Docx.” The attached Microsoft Word document appears to have been written by law firm Hash Blackwell, who was advising Anaheim on selling the stadium. The political consultant, who was paid by SRB management – the company through which Moreno wanted to buy the stadium and parking lot – to assist in the stadium negotiations, did not disclose the email in its quarterly lobbying report, Adkins wrote.
Why help the angels rather than the city that Sidhu was chosen to represent? One of the purposes proposed by the events described in the affidavit is to contribute to the campaign.
In a recorded conversation on October 29, 2021, in a private conversation, Sidhu told a co-witness that the affidavit stated: [Angels Representative 1]. Right? I’ll just call [Angels Representative 1] Get up and say, ‘[Angels Representative 1]We need at least half a million dollars to help you get IEs. “(IE, according to the affidavit, means” independent spending “).
In the second meeting between Sakshi and Sidhu, again in person, on December 6, 2021, Sidhu again highlighted the contribution of the campaign. He said in the affidavit: “Because I said, you have to pay at least one million dollars for my election. They have to. And of course, you know, if Disney, I mean, if Angels [stadium sale] Hopefully next year will be approved at the conclusion, we will push at least one million dollars for them. You know, for [Angels Representative 1] It’s bad to say ‘no’, it’s bad for them not to say no. ”
Sidhu made these contributions to the co-witness for the third time on January 24 this year, but the call was not recorded due to a “technical error”, the affidavit said. However, a co-witness told the FBI that Sidhu had told him that he “wanted to amend the করার 500,000 to $ 1,000,000 request to Angels Representative 1 to contribute to the campaign” and that he needed to make the stadium deal before asking Angels Representative 1.
In those meetings, fellow witnesses further learned that an Orange County Grand Jury was watching the stadium deal. According to the affidavit, the co-witness recorded a conversation he had with Sidhu about the grand jury investigation in mid-January. During the conversation, according to the affidavit, Sidhu told the co-witness, “It was my personal email, even my text and whatever was with you, I deleted everything.” He later asked the co-witness to “write, after your meeting, I want you to write these questions yourself … because then, we will meet and at least you let me know what happened.”
Co-witness and Sidhu made another recorded phone call on January 28 this year. In it, Sidhu says, “I hope I get at least a million from what I’m going to push. [Angels Representative 1] Actually ask me. [Angels Representative 1] Said, ‘What can I do for your election?’ I said, ‘Let me finish your contract first, then we’ll talk about that.’
The FBI co-witness had a last recorded conversation with Sidhu in person. It happened on 8 February. Earlier, the witness was given a document that looked like a federal grand jury subpoena and was told to tell Sidhu that he had been served (he was not served). That conversation included this exchange, which is being reproduced here because it appeared in the affidavit:
HS: So the only thing that matters is the time that fraud involved, in my opinion, Todd. That’s if there’s a money exchange. Right?
CW2: I understand that. I mean, we always said I didn’t do it to you
I know, with [a former Anaheim employee]You know, I don’t mean to imply that we’re talking angels and things. Right? [Anaheim Employee 1] I knew.
CW2: I mean, we worked together on all of these terms and tried to help bring it home. I agree with you but they definitely know the conversation. Learn email, learn text. So when they deal with the city, things? Have you ever seen what they got? And what documents that they pulled off your emails and other people’s emails?
HS: I, most emails, I deleted it.
A few revelations: No criminal charges have been brought against Sidhu. His lawyer said LA Times A statement said his client did not share confidential information in exchange for potential campaign contributions. The angels are not accused of any error in the document. Regarding the connection of the former Democratic leader Rafi, it stems from the fact that he was later identified as another associate witness to the corruption in Anaheim – which did not have much effect on the specific investigation into Sidhu, but led to agents Ament and Sidhu.
All this corruption does not exist in a vacuum. Here, I’ll delay LA Times Columnist Gustavo Arellano, who has been writing for over a decade, then edits OC WeeklyAnd know a thing or two about Anaheim’s history of corruption:
Anaheim is a city with an ugly, barely used, multi-million dollar transportation hub because former Assembly Speaker Kurt Pringle pushed for it in the 2000s in his dual power as mayor of Anaheim and chair of the California High-Speed Rail Authority. As Mayor Protem in 2009, Sidhu voted to grant a $ 76-million-plus tax break to a luxury hotel developer; As mayor, the council awarded the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce a $ 425,000 no-bid agreement at his request after spending nearly a quarter of a million dollars to help him win the mayoral seat in 2018.
Even the implementation of the 2016 district elections, to increase diversity in councils, and hopefully through a civil lawsuit to verify corporate power in the city, made possible by Latino activists over the past decade, has done little to stem the tide of chronology. Will the current allegation finally wake up my fellow anacrimmers?
And yet, perhaps most tragically, there is much more to this story. Earlier, a state housing agency said the agreement between the city and Angels violated California’s affordable housing laws. In response, the city reached a settlement with the state, which told the California Department of Housing and Community Development. Bar It still thinks it should be rejected. But the management company through which Moreno owns Angels still owes the city a letter stating that “SRB has fulfilled all its obligations and has every expectation that this transaction should proceed and is awaiting the council’s final action after June 14, 2022.”
The city did not say what would happen if it did not meet the deadline. Consider it the ultimate curiosity gap, where you can meet all your normal assumptions about how politics works.
Below is a copy of the court filing.