While the media is frantically pointing its cameras in every other direction, record numbers of local Dem politicians in major cities are being investigated, arrested, and indicted for corruption.
Today’s contestant is a twofer bringing together LA politics and USC.
Los Angeles City Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas was indicted on federal charges Wednesday for his role in an alleged bribery scheme that landed his son a professorship at USC.
Federal prosecutors alleged in a 20-count indictment that Ridley-Thomas helped direct funding and contracts to USC’s school of social work while serving on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. In exchange, his son, former state lawmaker Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, was guaranteed graduate school admission and a paid teaching position by the school’s then-dean, Marilyn Louise Flynn.
Mark Ridley-Thomas also moved $100,000 from a campaign committee through USC and eventually into the account of a nonprofit that employed his son, the indictment alleges.
The case capped an extraordinary day of corruption scandals in California. It came just hours after news that a top labor leader, Alma Hernández, faced state charges of embezzlement, tax fraud and perjury and that she had resigned from her post as executive director of SEIU California.
Alma Hernandez is a major score also.
My favorite part of this story is that Ridley-Thomas was claiming that he wouldn’t run for mayor because he cared too much about the homeless. Pretty much every Dem in local politics had endorsed him including Governor Newsom, Rep. Karen Bass, Rep. Adam Schiff, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Mayor Eric Garcetti, and City Council President Nury Martinez, not to mention Xavier Becerra.
Sebastian Ridley-Thomas was serving in the Assembly at the start of the alleged bribery scheme, which ran from 2017 through 2018, according to the indictment. He resigned from that position in December 2017 amid a sexual harassment investigation, citing health problems.
Sebastian Ridley-Thomas currently claims to be a civil and voting rights advocate. And the director of the California Policy and Research Initiative. Sadly, the USC thing doesn’t seem to have worked out.
Federal prosecutors said that in 2017 and 2018, then-supervisor Ridley-Thomas offered to support county contracts to USC’s School of Social Work — which had a multimillion-dollar budget deficit — in return for helping a relative.
In return, Flynn promised to provide the relative with a full-tuition scholarship and a paid professorship, and concocted a scheme to funnel $100,000 in Ridley-Thomas campaign funds through the university “to a non-profit to be operated by the relative,” said a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office.
Politics is nice work as long as the taxpayers keep paying for it.