Who’s Hacking Jose Huizar?

@TheGussReport – It’s not a good time to be suspended and indicted LA City Councilmember Jose Huizar.  

The events leading up to his arrest on federal charges last week include being stripped of his powerful Committee assignment by his “best friend,” Councilmember Herb Wesson. He was told to stay away from Council meetings by its president Nury Martinez who, on June 23rd, moved to have him suspended from City Council altogether.  Earlier this week LA City Controller Ron Galperin finally ordered his paychecks to stop.  His City-issued SUV is no longer parked at his home.  And on and on it goes.

But something curious is going on with Huizar’s City Hall email account.

This column sent test emails to it and determined that as late as Tuesday, June 30th at 12:34 am, someone accessed Huizar’s email account, opened some of his email and clicked on attached content.  

But later the same day, Rick Coca, Martinez’s Communications Director who previously served in the same capacity for Huizar, responded to an email from this column to say Huizar does not have access to his email and, “that access was removed following his suspension.”

That suspension took place more than a week earlier.

With apologies for the alliteration, who’s hacking Jose Huizar?

  • Could it be Huizar himself? Despite Martinez’s assurances that his email access was revoked upon his suspension, this column finds that her office is less-than-forthcoming in almost every encounter and, instead of saying that they’re going to cut off Huizar’s access instead said that they already did it.  Unless Martinez maliciously misrepresented suspending Huizar’s email account, it couldn’t be him.  Martinez’s office did not to respond to two offers to clarify Coca’s assertion.
  • Did Huizar have an auto-forward of all email to a personal email account? Even if he did, there isn’t an auto-click for the links, and a suspension of the account should have frozen all such activity anyway, so it wouldn’t be that.
  • Does Martinez, City Attorney Mike Feuer, a Huizar staffer or someone within the City’s Information Technology Agency have access to the account and is poking around in it?
  • Is Huizar’s email account being hacked by an unknown entity, such as someone connected to any of the Chinese real estate developers allegedly involved in bribing Huizar?
  • Or do the FBI and U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna have a warrant to track activity in that account?

Since everything is up in the air and giving Martinez the benefit of the doubt, here’s what this column is doing to find out.  A public records request has been submitted as follows:

  • Did Nury Martinez or any other City official order the suspension of Huizar’s access to his email account and, if so, please provide a copy of that time- and date-stamped directive.
  • Provide a list of every IP address to access Jose Huizar’s email account since midnight on June 23, 2020.
  • If any of those IP addresses belong to the City of Los Angeles government, provide a list of the name of the person to whom each such IP address is assigned.
  • A comprehensive list of all activity taking place within the account since midnight on June 23rd.
  • A copy of every email sent to or from that email account since midnight on June 23rd.
  • A list of all email forwarding settings present in the account as of midnight on June 23rd
  • Is the email account active as of midnight July 1st, 2020 and who is in control of its current password?

Since Huizar’s email account didn’t have an auto-reply, such as I’m out of the office and will return on Monday, the test emails this column sent to it weren’t auto-opened.   The emails were opened manually as was the content clicked within them.

The question is by whom?

Martinez assures that it wasn’t Huizar.

So the big questions are this: if it is Mr. Huizar accessing email in an account from which Martinez says he was already suspended, is his doing so a violation of his federal terms of release on bail in advance of the trial, and will that lead to a bail revocation request if the FBI and U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna come to the same conclusion?

L.A. City Hall has a long history of trying to block this column from gaining access to information.  If it does it again in this instance, or if it redacts any information, you will hear about every bit of it.

Stay tuned.

(Daniel Guss, MBA, is a member of the Los Angeles Press Club, and has contributed to CityWatch, KFI AM-640, iHeartMedia, 790-KABC, Cumulus Media, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Daily News, Los Angeles Magazine, Movieline Magazine, Emmy Magazine, Los Angeles Business Journal, Pasadena Star News, Los Angeles Downtown News, and the Los Angeles Times in its Sports, Opinion and Entertainment sections and Sunday Magazine, among other publishers. Follow him on Twitter @TheGussReport. His opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) -cw