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California Democratic Party Official Resigns After FBI Arrest Becomes Public

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


One of the most prominent Democratic officials in California has resigned amid a growing corruption probe.

Melahat Rafiei announced she is resigning from her position as the secretary of the California Democratic Party and State Representative to the Democratic National Committee.

“In a letter posted on social media, Rafiei said she was a confidential witness in the FBI probe of the proposed sale of Angel Stadium and that she resigned from her post, saying the controversy over her role had become a hindrance,” Fox 11 Los Angeles reported.

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“Rafiei had been under increasing scrutiny to quit after reports recently surfaced that she had been arrested by the FBI in 2019 for an alleged bribery scheme. She has not been charged,” the outlet added.

Rafiei denied she was involved in any wrongdoing and said she cooperated with the FBI probe.

Rafiei said the investigation had become a “hindrance” and “distraction from the important work of the party.”

“The controversy over my role is now a hindrance,” Rafiei wrote in a letter to the state and national chairmen of the Democratic Party. “The rush to judgment that is all too prevalent in politics these days has made clear to me that, for now, the best course of action for me and for the party is to resign from my positions.”

She also resigned from her appointed roles on Anaheim’s Culture and Heritage Commission and the OC Fair and Event Center Board.

Rafiei lost the support of Democrat Party leadership after news surfaced that the FBI had arrested her on suspicion of bribing public officials in 2019.

Reportedly, she is now a “cooperating witness: in the Federal corruption probe.

The Los Angeles Times reported:

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She did not respond Sunday to a request for comment but acknowledged in the letter that she was a confidential witness in the FBI probe of the proposed $320-million sale of Angel Stadium land.

Federal investigators said in a court filing that they believe there was fraud, bribery, obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and other corruption in the negotiations between Anaheim and the Angels over the proposed sale.

The following pertinent facts were included in FBI Special Agent Brian Adkins’ affidavit, filed on May 16:

–The complaint against Rafiei “was dismissed without prejudice at the request of the government.”

–FBI agents suspected Rafiei “omitted material facts to investigators,” including additional instances where she “offered to pay bribes to elected public officials.”

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–“Based on the government’s interaction with CW1 and CW1’s counsel,” [the FBI believes] “CW1’s motive for cooperating in this investigation was to receive leniency for the federal criminal violation CW1 was originally arrested for, as well as other possible criminal conduct.”

–“The government has not made any promises of leniency to CW1 or CW1’s counsel.”

–“CW1 and the government have not been able to reach an agreement on a pre-indictment resolution, and at this time, there is no further cooperation expected.”

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The California Democratic Progressive Caucus released a statement over the weekend calling for Rafiei to step down from her party leadership roles.

“While it is possible that the FBI case is overstated and that the audiotape doesn’t say what it seems to say, the important issue for the party is that (Rafiei) ran for CDP Officer and hid from delegates that she was arrested for corruption. She put her own interests ahead of the party and that is never acceptable,” the statement said.

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