Garcetti, Martinez call on L.A. City Councilman Huizar to resign
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Council President Nury Martinez on Thursday called on Councilman Jose Huizar to step down amid an ongoing corruption investigation at City Hall centered on bribes and real estate development.
Martinez said in a statement that the “greed, corruption and deception” laid out in new federal filings in the case “disgusted” her and shook Angelenos’ faith in government.
“He should resign immediately,” Martinez said. Rick Coca, a Martinez spokesman, said the councilwoman also sent a letter to Huizar asking him to step down.
Garcetti, shortly after Martinez’s statement was made public, said he supports her request. The mayor said that “elected officials have a special responsibility to the people who entrust them with power. Mr. Huizar has lost that trust, and I hope and expect that any wrongdoing will be exposed and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
A former aide to L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar has agreed to plead guilty to felony racketeering in the federal “pay-to-play” investigation at City Hall.
Huizar has not been arrested or charged with a crime. Representatives for the councilman, whose district stretches from downtown to Eagle Rock, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The calls for Huizar to resign came one day after federal prosecutors announced that George Esparza, a longtime aide to the councilman, had agreed to plead guilty in a scheme that involved hitting up developers for cash and other bribes in exchange for help with real estate projects.
Prosecutors said Esparza’s boss — a councilman who is not named in court records but is known to be Huizar based on details in federal filings — was in charge of the operation. Prosecutors said the councilman received more than $1 million worth of bribes from just one of the real estate developers doing business in his district.
Esparza is the fourth person to agree to plead guilty in the sprawling probe.
Huizar had long been known to be under federal investigation — FBI agents raided his home and offices in 2018 — and the councilman was stripped of many committee assignments shortly after the raids.
Court documents in the George Esparza case allege that a billionaire Chinese real estate developer played a crucial role in helping L.A. Councilman Jose Huizar settle a sexual harassment lawsuit as he was seeking re-election.
After a separate development in the case, involving an agreement by a real estate consultant to plead guilty, Martinez two weeks ago asked the councilman to stop attending council meetings and casting votes until there was “legal clarity” on the federal probe.
She stopped short of seeking his resignation, while four council members and City Controller Ron Galperin called on him to step down.
But on Thursday, she cited the new federal filings and said the “indictment directly implicates Councilmember Huizar and his illegal, offensive and absolute abuse-of-power dealings with a Council District 14 staffer.”
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