Plea Deal in L.A. Bribery Case Could Hide Evidence Against Karen Bass

Congresswoman Karen Bass attends the official unveiling of City Of Los Angeles' Obama Boulevard in honor of the 44th President of the United States of America on May 04, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)
Leon Bennett/Getty Images

A plea bargain in a bribery case involving a University of Southern California (USC) official and a former local city council member could ensure that evidence implicating Los Angeles mayoral candidate Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) is not revealed.

Last year, Marilyn Flynn, 83, former dean of USC’s school of social work, was indicted for a scheme to bribe council member Mark Ridley-Thomas by giving one of his relatives admission, scholarships, and employment in exchange for local contracts.

Federal prosecutors had recently revealed that Bass was connected to the case because USC granted her a $95,000 scholarship  to pursue a part-time graduate degree that USC allegedly hoped would encourage her to secure federal funding for the school.

Bass was never named as a suspect or a target of investigation, but prosecutors had begun to subpoena communications between Bass and the school as they pursued the case against Flynn. Ridley-Thomas is scheduled to go on trial in November.

Now, the Los Angeles Times reports, Flynn’s plea bargain this week could make it less likely that any evidence against Bass emerges:

A former USC dean agreed Thursday to plead guilty to bribery, admitting that she arranged an illicit $100,000 payment for Mark Ridley-Thomas when he was on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in return for a USC contract with the county.

Flynn’s plea also reduces the likelihood that evidence related to Rep. Karen Bass, the front-runner in the race for L.A. mayor, would get a public airing at trial.

The Times reported last week that prosecutors had examined Bass’ receipt of a full scholarship from Flynn in 2011, during her first term in office, and had considered it “critical” to showing Flynn’s corrupt intent. Prosecutors noted that Flynn had provided “input” on legislation to Bass, who later proposed a bill that would have given USC and other private universities greater access to federal funds for social work — “just as defendant Flynn wanted,” according to court papers.

Bass faces billionaire businessman Rick Caruso — who chaired the USC board at the time that it alerted federal authorities to the suspected misconduct by Flynn that eventually led to the prosecutions of both Flynn and Ridley-Thomas.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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