Another day, another corrupt lawmaker has been arrested and charged for breaking the law.
Jose Huizar, a Democrat who has been on the Los Angeles City Council since 2005, was arrested Tuesday in connection to a federal investigation into corruption in the city.
According to the Los Angeles Times, federal agents believe Huizar oversaw a pay-for-play scheme in which he extorted real estate investors for campaign donations in exchange for his assistance in navigating the city’s approval process for high-rise construction permits.
Huizar, who served as the chairman of the council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee, is accused of accepting campaign donations, extravagant dinners, free flights, poker chips, and other financial incentives totaling more than $1.5 million, according to his arrest warrant.
The councilman’s arrest was expected by many given the investigation began years ago and the FBI raided his Los Angles home back in 2018.
Several of the Democrat councilman’s associates have been charged in recent months for their alleged connection to the pay-for-play scheme.
Los Angeles Council President Nury Martinez condemned Huizar’s alleged behavior and announced plans to remove him from office.
“While today’s announcement on the arrest of Councilmember Huizar is not unexpected, the horrendous and disgusting allegations leveled against him and others have painted a dark cloud over our city government for a long time now,” Martinez said. “Effective today, I will begin the process of removing him from office so that the good people of Council District 14 and the City of Los Angeles will be fairly and honorably represented. That is our duty, and we must do it.”
Former City Councilman Mitchell Englander, a Democrat, pleaded guilty earlier this year in a related corruption case.
Englander admitted to accepting tens of thousands of dollars in envelopes of cash and other bribes, including a female escort service, from businesses pushing permits through the city.
UPDATE: L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar was ordered released on $100,000 bond. Upcoming court dates: July 14 (preliminary hearing), July 20 (arraignment). Mr. Huizar was NOT asked to enter a plea to the charge in the complaint, which is normal at this point in a prosecution.
— US Attorney L.A. (@USAO_LosAngeles) June 23, 2020
#BREAKING Photos from the complaint show some of the cash prosecutors allege Councilman Jose Huizar and his associates received from developers to help push their projects through the city planning process. @SpecNews1SoCal pic.twitter.com/5WATbJtNef
— Natalie Brunell (@natbrunell) June 23, 2020
BREAKING: L.A. Councilman Jose Huizar arrested in 'pay-to-play' corruption probe https://t.co/DVvisLsQF7
— Emily Alpert Reyes (@AlpertReyes) June 23, 2020
The Department of Justice released the following statement on Huizar’s arrest:
Special agents with the FBI this morning arrested Jose Huizar, an elected member of the Los Angeles City Council, on a federal racketeering charge that alleges he led a criminal enterprise that used his powerful position at City Hall to solicit and accept lucrative bribes and other financial benefits to enrich himself and his close associates in exchange for Huizar taking official actions favorable to the developers and others who financed and facilitated the bribes.
Huizar, 51, of Boyle Heights, was taken into custody at his home without incident and is expected to make his initial appearance this afternoon in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles.
Huizar was arrested pursuant to a federal criminal complaint filed on June 22 and unsealed this morning. The complaint charges Huizar with one count of conspiring to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act and alleges that, as part of the criminal enterprise, he and his associates violated a series of laws, including bribery, honest services fraud, extortion and money laundering.
The press release notes that Huizar is the fifth person to be charged in the ongoing corruption investigation being conducted by the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The other four defendants have agreed to plead guilty.