California Democrat Leader Resigns over Bribery Allegations in Anaheim, Angels Probe; Update: Mayor Resigns

Angels Stadium (Christopher Paulin / Flickr / CC / Cropped)
Christopher Paulin / Flickr / CC / Cropped

California Democratic Party secretary Melahat Rafiei has resigned her state and national positions after being implicated in an ongoing probe of alleged bribery in negotiations between the city of Anaheim and the Los Angeles Angels over a stadium.

The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday:

Rafiei, who has been accused of trying to bribe public officials in a mushrooming federal corruption probe, is also leaving her post as a member of the Democratic National Committee. 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 city’s mayor, Harry Sidhu, is facing mounting calls to resign after he was named by the FBI in an affidavit as the likely perpetrator of numerous crimes during the negotiations. The affidavit doesn’t accuse Angels’ owner Arte Moreno or his Major League Baseball team of any wrongdoing.

The Orange County Register added:

[Rafiei] told the Register that she also resigned Saturday from her appointed roles on the OC Fair Board and on Anaheim’s city culture and heritage commission, saying the investigation had “become a distraction” from the important work all of these groups need to do.

In court documents filed last week, it came to light that Rafiei had been arrested in 2019 then on charges of “theft or bribery” involving federal funds related to a cannabis scheme.

Since her arrest, Rafiei has been cooperating with the FBI to bring them information about possible corruption in Anaheim. She says she accepted a request to cooperate, wearing a wire and delivering evidence that the FBI used last week to charge [former Anaheim Chamber of Commerce CEO] Ament and to raise concerns about Sidhu’s actions.

Corruption has been a persistent problem in California Democratic Party politics, both at the state and local level, as the party’s control of government has created opportunities for self-enrichment. Many candidates in 2022 are promising to clean up their communities — both literally, in terms of homelessness, and figuratively, in terms of crime and corruption.

Update: Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu resigned Monday.

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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