UPDATE: OCTOBER 20 — The Los Angeles City Council voted 11-3 Wednesday to suspend Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, one week after the longtime political leader was indicted for federal bribery charges, the Los Angeles Times reports.
On the same day Los Angeles City Councilman Ridley-Thomas is scheduled to be arraigned in federal court, his colleagues will vote Wednesday on whether he should be suspended from his council duties.
L.A. City Council President Nury Martinez introduced the motion Tuesday to “immediately suspend” Ridley-Thomas who was indicted last week over federal bribery charges. Councilman Mitch O’Farrell seconded the motion, which would prohibit Ridley-Thomas from attending council and committee meetings, using discretionary funds, and implementing contracts, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The council will hold a special session Wednesday for the vote.
Martinez’s motion arrives one day after Ridley-Thomas sent a letter to the council, stating that he would “immediately step back” from participating in council and committee meetings, but would not resign. In the letter, he also said he’d fight the charges against him.
He was not in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting.
The motion states that the City Charter permits the council to “suspend any elected officer against whom felony criminal proceedings have been initiated.”
“As acknowledged in the letter sent by Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas, the City Council must be able to ‘conduct its business with minimal distractions,’” the motion states. “Council members have a full duty to serve this city and their districts and to make decisions on behalf of the people that elected them into office. Any action that erodes public trust or calls into question the integrity of the institution requires the Council to act to preserve that trust.”
Martinez’s note also states that a “person is presumed innocent until proven guilty; however, a council member who has been charged with public corruption cannot continue to exercise the powers of city office and preserve public trust,” FOX 11 reports.
Also during Tuesday’s city council meeting, City Controller Ron Galperin said he would use his authority to cease Ridley-Thomas’ salary payments and benefits if the city approves his suspension, the Times reports.
“The fact that yet another Los Angeles elected official is facing criminal corruption charges is an appalling stain on our democracy,” Galperin said in a statement. “No one indicted for public corruption and suspended by the City Council should receive a taxpayer-funded salary.”
Ridley-Thomas was indicted Oct. 13 for allegedly conspiring with Marilyn Louise Flynn, former dean of USC’s School of Social Work, to funnel money to the university in exchange for his son being admitted into graduate school with a full-tuition scholarship, and a paid professorship. His 20-count indictment includes allegations of bribery, conspiracy, and mail and wire fraud, the Times reports.
In response to Ridley-Thomas’ indictment, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted Tuesday for an outside law firm to conduct an independent investigation into county service contracts approved by the board over the years, Los Angeles Daily News reports. Ridley-Thomas served on the board from 2008-2020 when he was reelected to city council.
“The motion, in my opinion, is about restoring trust,” Supervisor Hilda Solis, who co-authored the motion with Supervisor Kathryn Barger, told Los Angeles Daily News. “Protection of taxpayers dollars is absolutely necessary to preserve public confidence and to make sure government works for its constituents.
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