L.A. Councilmember Curren Price says he is innocent and should not be suspended

Los Angeles City Councilmember Curren Price presides over a meeting earlier this month.
Los Angeles City Councilmember Curren Price, pictured earlier this month, says he should not be suspended from his duties while he defends himself from felony charges.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles City Councilmember Curren Price called on his colleagues Wednesday to reject a proposal to suspend him from the council, saying he is innocent and deserves the chance to respond to “misguided charges” filed by the district attorney’s office.

Price said that until he has an opportunity to respond, it would be “inappropriate” for the council’s Rules, Elections, and Intergovernmental Relations Committee to recommend his suspension — a move that would strip him of all his duties, including his ability to cast votes.

“While I respect that Council President Krekorian has to take any allegations against a member of the council seriously, I am presumed innocent, as indeed I am,” Price said in a statement. “And the best way to protect the voices and concerns of those in my district is to allow me and my dedicated staff to continue to serve the needs of District 9.”


Price’s statement comes more than a week after the district attorney’s office filed a case charging Price with 10 felony counts.

Harris-Dawson, the new No. 2 on the L.A. City Council, appears to be the first at City Hall to publicly express concern about Price’s case, saying he had not previously seen felony charges “for this type of activity.”

June 20, 2023

Prosecutors have charged Price with perjury, saying he failed to disclose his wife’s business dealings with developers whose projects he voted on. They also say Price violated conflict-of-interest laws by voting to support two of those developers’ affordable housing projects between 2019 and 2021.

In addition, prosecutors have charged Price with embezzlement of public funds, saying he had his now-wife receive city health benefits at a time when their marriage was not legally valid.

The City Charter gives the council the power to suspend any city elected official who has been charged with a felony, regardless of whether he or she has declared their innocence.

The rules committee is scheduled to meet Friday to take up its suspension proposal, which would ultimately require full council approval. However, it’s not clear whether that three-member panel will decide the issue with only one meeting.

Suspension would have huge consequences both for Price and his South L.A. district, which takes in some of the city’s most impoverished neighborhoods. If Price were suspended, Krekorian and his colleagues would need to decide whether to select a non-voting caretaker or a temporary voting council member to oversee the district. That arrangement could last quite a while, since Price started his third term in December and has three and a half years left in his term.


If the council votes to suspend, City Controller Kenneth Mejia would likely move to strip him of his pay, potentially undercutting Price’s ability to pay for defense lawyers. In December, Mejia made clear that he would stop paying the salary of any council member who is suspended, saying such an action is spelled out in the City Charter.

“Once City Council bars a councilmember from their duties, it is the controller’s responsibility to stop paying them for not working,” Mejia wrote last year on Twitter.

The council has suspended two colleagues since 2020: Jose Huizar and Mark Ridley-Thomas, both of whom were charged in federal corruption cases. Huizar later pleaded guilty, while Ridley-Thomas was convicted by a jury of seven counts.

Krekorian did not immediately respond to The Times’ inquiries about Price’s statement. But in recent days, he has promised to move more slowly on the suspension process than the council did with Huizar and Ridley-Thomas.

During an appearance Wednesday on Tavis Smiley’s talk radio show on KBLA-AM 1580, Krekorian said the public should not assume that Price will be suspended simply because a suspension motion is being considered.

“This is simply to allow the conversation to begin,” Krekorian said. “It’s not the end of the conversation. It’s the beginning of the conversation.”


With yet another colleague facing criminal charges, the City Council is weighing its third suspension vote in three years. This time around, council members are taking a more cautious approach.

June 14, 2023

Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who sits on the rules committee, has begun raising questions about the severity of the charges filed against Price, saying the D.A.’s case has left him and others “scratching their heads.” Harris-Dawson said earlier this week that he wants residents of Price’s 9th District to have the ability to weigh in on any suspension proposal.

“I am committed to working with the [council] president to have official hearings in the 9th District, should this process go any further,” Harris-Dawson said.

Harris-Dawson declined to say earlier this week whether he thinks suspension of Price is warranted. Meanwhile, Price said he is eager to respond both to the D.A.’s “misguided charges” and to “unfair aspersions” cast against his wife, Del Richardson Price.

“I am confident that the court, and any fair observers, will recognize that these charges are unwarranted,” Price said.

Price had been a member of the rules committee before the charges were filed last week. Krekorian has appointed Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martinez, who represents a Hollywood-area district, to fill Price‘s seat on the committee.

Soto-Martinez said last week that he would vote in favor of suspending Price. On Wednesday afternoon, he declined to comment on Price’s statement.