Oakland Mayor Speaks Out 4 Days After FBI Raid, Attorney Resigns

Sophie Li
By Sophie Li
June 24, 2024California
Oakland Mayor Speaks Out 4 Days After FBI Raid, Attorney Resigns
Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao makes remarks to the media at Oakland City Hall in Oakland, Calif., on June 24, 2024, following an FBI raid on her home and three others last week. (Jessica Christian/San Francisco Chronicle via AP)

Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao’s attorney reportedly resigned hours after she made her first public statement on June 24—four days after the FBI raided her residence.

The mayor said she isn’t involved in wrongdoing, at the press conference Monday morning.

“I want to be crystal clear; I have done nothing wrong,” the mayor told reporters at City Hall. “I can tell you with confidence that this investigation is not about me. I have not been charged with a crime and I am confident that I will not be charged with a crime because I am innocent.”

High-profile attorney Tony Brass was hired as Ms. Thao’s counsel late last week after the federal raid. He resigned several hours after the mayor’s statements on Monday, after telling local television station KRON4 that he was unaware of the mayor’s public statement and only found out about it through the news.

On June 20, local media footage showed federal agents removing boxes, trash bags, and plastic bins from a residence identified as the mayor’s on Maiden Lane in Oakland’s Lincoln Highlands neighborhood. Reports indicate that the mayor was escorted from her home during the search.

The reason for the raid remains unclear.

NTD Photo
FBI agents raid a home on Maiden Lane where Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao allegedly lives in Oakland, Calif., on June 20, 2024. (Jessica Christian/San Francisco Chronicle via AP)

Ms. Thao said she was not given notice about the raid and is “seeking answers from the U.S. attorney about what is happening and why, and why I wasn’t offered the opportunity to cooperate voluntarily.”

“I plan to be 100 percent transparent and cooperate fully with this investigation,” she said.

Federal agents also raided two other residences, including the home of Andy Duong, the director of the city’s garbage vendor California Waste Solutions, and that of his father, David Duong, president of the waste contractor, as reported by local outlets.

Since 2020, Oakland’s Public Ethics Commission has investigated the recycling company for alleged improper campaign contributions to city officials, including the mayor. The commission’s enforcement chief Simon Russell confirmed to The Epoch Times that the case remains under investigation.

The June 20 raid took place two days after the Alameda County Registrar of Voters confirmed that a recall effort against Ms. Thao had gathered enough signatures to be placed on the November ballot—a sequence the mayor said was not a coincidence.

“The timing of all this is troubling. And we should all be concerned. We now have an active recall campaign that is a waste of time and public resources,” she said.

The mayor has linked the raid to the recall effort, saying that it is an attempt by wealthy political opponents to remove her from office.

“I want to know more about the handful of billionaires from San Francisco and from Piedmont, who are hell-bent on running me out of office,” she said. “The day following the qualification of a recall election, funded by some of the richest people in the Bay Area, seemed like the right day to execute a warrant.”

However, Oakland United to Recall Sheng Thao (OUST) said its concerns stem from the mayor’s handling of the city’s budget and public safety issues, particularly the failure to secure state grant money to combat retail theft.

The state made $240 million available, but the Oakland city auditor found that the city “prepared but did not successfully submit an application.”

“It’s not simply a job performance issue, it’s about her integrity, her competence, her missing the retail [theft] grant, her bankruptcy of the city’s budget…. It’s just all too much,” Seneca Scott, one of the key organizers and a former mayoral candidate, told The Epoch Times.

According to the Oakland Police Department, violent crime rose 21 percent in 2023 from the previous year, with robberies increasing 40 percent overall and residential robberies surging 71 percent.

Despite the June 10 police report showing a 33 percent decrease in the overall crime rate compared to a year ago, critics argue this decline is due to a reduction in reporting of smaller crimes. Notably, residential robberies have increased by 87 percent, and unspecified burglaries have surged by 175 percent compared with the first half of 2023.

Following the FBI raid, a small group of protesters gathered outside the mayor’s residence, demanding the resignations of Ms. Thao and City Council President Nikki Bas.

In her speech on Monday, the mayor said she has no plans to step down.

“I will not be bullied, and I will not be disparaged, and I will not be threatened out of this office,” she said.

Ms. Thao, formerly an Oakland City Council member, began her term as mayor in January 2023. Should the recall vote fail in November, she will continue serving her current term until 2026.

Rachel Acenas and Lear Zhou contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times