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Members of L.A. Councilwoman Martinez's staff summoned to appear before grand jury

Members of L.A. Councilwoman Martinez's staff summoned to appear before grand jury
L.A. City Councilwoman Nury Martinez. She won reelection in March, handily defeating former state Assemblywoman Cindy Montañez. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

Federal prosecutors have issued subpoenas to members of Los Angeles City Councilwoman Nury Martinez's staff, asking them to appear before the grand jury to discuss her recent reelection campaign, a political advisor said Thursday.

Roy Behr, Martinez's political consultant, told The Times that an unspecified number of staffers have been summoned. Martinez, who represents portions of the San Fernando Valley, intends to cooperate with the inquiry but has not been called to testify at this point, Behr said.

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"The councilwoman has not been subpoenaed, and she understands from the U.S. attorney's office that she is not a target of the inquiry," Behr said in an email. "We are unaware of whether there is a particular target."

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Martinez, a former L.A. Unified school board member, was elected to her council seat in 2013. She won reelection in March, handily defeating former state Assemblywoman Cindy Montañez in the contest to represent Arleta, Panorama City, Van Nuys and other neighborhoods.

Behr confirmed the existence of the subpoenas six months after an aide to another San Fernando Valley politician, U.S. Rep. Tony Cardenas, announced that she also had been asked to appear before a federal grand jury.

In April, Cardenas aide Gabriela Marquez wrote a letter to House Speaker John A. Boehner, which was read aloud on the House floor, informing him she had received a subpoena. Such disclosures are required under House rules.

Martinez's term expires in 2020. At least five Martinez staffers have been asked to testify in the coming weeks, said a source familiar with the subpoenas. That source asked to remain anonymous because of a lack of authorization to discuss such matters.

The race between Martinez and Montañez is not the only one from the March election to draw the interest of investigators. In May, the city Ethics Commission agreed to levy a $91,548 fine against Robert Cole, a candidate who ran unsuccessfully to replace Councilman Bernard C. Parks in South Los Angeles.

The commission accused Cole of filing bogus information about campaign contributions — attributing multiple donations to dead people — as part of an effort to secure more than $61,000 in taxpayer matching funds for his campaign.

Times staff writer Emily Alpert Reyes contributed to this report.

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