Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley wants Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu – who is the subject of an FBI corruption probe – to resign.
“I am deeply concerned about the criminal investigations into corruption in the city of Anaheim,” she said in a Monday statement.
Foley, who is a director for Orange County Transportation Agency, also wants the county and the transportation agency to audit any ongoing contracts they have with Angels Baseball and the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce.
“This ongoing scandal highlights why transparency and accountability are so important in how we negotiate contracts,” she said in the statement. “While I have no reason to believe there are any financial irregularities, we must do everything we can to protect the taxpayers.”
Foley abstained from voting last month on approving another $1.6 million in suicide prevention ads with the Angels following community questions on whether it made sense for the county to give most of its suicide prevention COVID dollars to the baseball franchise.
Some Anaheim City Council members have called to end city contracts with the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce and for an independent investigation into top-level executives at city hall.
While nobody from the Angels is facing criminal charges from federal prosecutors, FBI agents have been poking around stadium negotiations between the Angels and Anaheim Mayor Sidhu.
But federal investigators, in their affidavit, say Sidhu passed critical information to the Angels during the stadium negotiations.
After publication of this story, Supervisor Don Wagner told Voice of OC that he and Chairman Doug Chaffee on Friday scheduled a resolution calling for Sidhu’s resignation at their Tuesday meeting.
Sidhu resigned today.
Last week, Anaheim City Council Members – including the majority who routinely sided with the mayor – called for Sidhu’s resignation and so did Anaheim residents who even called on other members of the council to resign as well.
At the City Council meeting last week, Councilman Avelino Valencia publicly called for Sidhu to resign.
Others have called out Valencia for taking campaign contributions from the same groups that funded Sidhu’s campaigns.
California State Assembly candidate Bulmaro “Boomer” Vicente called on Valencia to drop out of the assembly race on Monday and for the Democratic Party of Orange County to withhold endorsements for candidates receiving money “from special interests at the center of the FBI investigation.”
“While I applaud that the majority of the Anaheim City Council called for the resignation of Mayor Sidhu, I cannot ignore the fact that my opponent, Councilmember Avelino Valencia, received contributions from the same entities that funded Sidhu’s campaign and are the subject of the FBI’s investigation,” Vicente said in a statement.
Vicente also said Valencia knew of the alleged “cabal” running Anaheim.
“In recent coverage of the story, Mr. Valencia acknowledged he was aware of the existence of the group, but did not raise flags or speak out when he had a ‘sense of it’ and ‘didn’t think it was right,’” Vicente continued.
Meanwhile, Councilman Jose Moreno has already called on the city to cut ties with the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce by ending all contracts with the chamber and its affiliates.
The council is expected to have a public discussion tomorrow on the future of the Angel Stadium deal which has been at the center of the corruption probe into Sidhu – who brokered the sale.
Last week, an Orange County Superior Court judge halted the stadium land sale for 60 days in light of the FBI’s investigation.
But Angels owner Arte Moreno is urging city council members to finalize the stadium sale by June 14 regardless, arguing that the deal was made in “good faith.”
Meanwhile, Sidhu didn’t show up to last week’s city council meeting after his corruption probe came to light.
And if he doesn’t show up tomorrow, under the city’s charter, the mayor’s seat could become vacant.
Under the city charter, a seat automatically becomes vacant if a council member misses two regularly scheduled meetings without an excused absence in the span of a month.
City Spokesman Mike Lyster told the Voice of OC last week that Sidhu last attended a meeting on April 26 and that if he doesn’t show up tomorrow that would be two unexcused absences in a 30 day period.
Foley’s request for the audits into Angels Baseball and Anaheim’s Chamber of Commerce as well as her demand for Sidhu to resign comes one day after Melahat Rafiei – a longtime leader in the Orange County Democratic Party – resigned as secretary of the California Democratic Party and state representative to the Democratic National Committee.
She also resigned from her seats on the OC Fair Board and the Anaheim Cultural Heritage Commission.
OC lawmakers and party leaders called for Rafiei’s resignation after news broke out that she was arrested by the FBI in 2019 for allegedly attempting to bribe Irvine City Council members for favorable cannabis legislation.
Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC reporter and corps member with Report for America, a GroundTruth initiative. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.
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