By Bill Hendrickson
José Huizar, the beleaguered city councilmember for Council District 14, is facing fresh accusations of wrongdoing.
Recently, Huizar was accused of retaliation by a former staffer, Jesse Leon, who filed a $10 million legal claim alleging that he was fired after he told federal investigators of his suspicion that Huizar had tried to extort money or solicit bribes from operators of cannabis businesses, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times on Nov. 26.
It was the third retaliation claim against Huizar in just over a year. In the first two cases, former staffers Mayra Alvarez and Pauline Medina said they were fired after raising concerns about ethical and legal breaches by Huizar, among them, an extramarital affair with an aide and misuse of public resources. Those cases are currently in varying stages of the legal process.
The retaliation allegations – all of which Huizar has denied – are in addition to the damaging effects from FBI raids on Huizar’s home and two of his offices some 14 months ago. No one has been arrested or publicly charged with a crime in connection with the raids, but Huizar has been enfeebled politically: The raids led to his expulsion from all City Council committees, where the day-to-day work of local governance takes place. Moreover, the raids appear to be part of a larger corruption probe centered on downtown real estate developments.
Against that backdrop, the City Council recently took a small step in the direction of curtailing the influence of developers on city government.
On December 4, by a vote of 13 to 0, the City Council voted to ban campaign contributions from developers who are seeking city approval for their projects. But the law does not take effect until after the 2022 primary.
The new law also does not stop developers from raising campaign money from other donors. Nor does it apply to subcontractors or individuals other than developers who have interests in gaining city approval for real estate projects
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