The guilty pleas are piling up in the ongoing federal pay-to-play corruption investigation. Already, former City Councilman Mitch Englander has admitted to taking envelopes of cash and other gifts from a businessman who wanted to do more work in the city. Then a political fundraiser admitted to helping a real estate developer pay off another council member — presumably Councilman Jose Huizar, based on the descriptions in court documents — to clear the way for a major project.
Huizar hasn’t been named by prosecutors, but the details in the court filings make clear he is at the heart of the federal City Hall investigation. His home and office were raided by the FBI in November 2018. Huizar hasn’t been charged, but on Thursday, Council President Nury Martinez moved to suspend him from the council, which would block him from attending meetings or voting on city matters.
These recent cases paint a horrifying picture of how business is conducted in the city, with charges of bribery, racketeering and other illicit schemes orchestrated by city officials with businessmen trying to buy special treatment.
And you know what’s really galling? Until this week, there was barely a peep of concern from city leaders, including Mayor Eric Garcetti and Martinez and their colleagues. Only two council members, Bob Blumenfield and David Ryu, put out statements lamenting the corruption charges. (Read the rest)