A wave of corruption scandals has washed over California’s local governments in recent years, particularly in Southern California.
Bribery and self-dealing is so common among small cities in Los Angeles County that the speaker of the state Assembly, Anthony Rendon, has described the area he represents as a “corridor of corruption.”
Last month, Jose Huizar, a member of the Los Angeles City Council for 15 years, pleaded guilty to federal charges of racketeering and tax evasion for extorting at least $1.5 million in bribes from developers of real estate projects.
This week, another former Los Angeles councilman, Mark Ridley-Thomas, went on trial in federal court for allegedly, as a county supervisor, routing contracts to the University of Southern California in return for benefits for his son, former assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, including a $100,000 grant to the son’s nonprofit corporation.
Out-and-out bribery violates both state and federal law and quite a few local officials, both elected and appointed, and some state legislators have been prosecuted.
Just below blatant tit-for-tat bribery, legally speaking, is another layer known colloquially as “pay-to-play.” Those seeking beneficial acts from…