LOS ANGELES — An anonymously leaked recording of rude, racist remarks and political scheming that led to the resignation of the Los Angeles City Council president and a powerful labor leader has left a mystery: who made the tape and why ?
The publication of the year-old recording on the Reddit website in the run-up to November’s midterm elections raised clear suspicions of political motivation. Much of the hour-long private conversation between several council members and the head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor — all Latino Democrats — focused on building their influence in district realignment. advice.
He has now triggered a state investigation.
The recording was made in a meeting room inside the headquarters of the politically influential task force – known locally as ‘The Fed’ – but it is unclear how the recording was made during a small gathering of friends, or even who was in the room.
“Obviously this was insider work,” said Mark Gonzalez, who leads the Los Angeles County Democratic Party and believes the likeliest target of the stranger who recorded the meeting was the president of the federation, Ron Herrera.
Herrera has since resigned.
“It had to be someone who had access and who knew their schedule, who was aware of it,” Gonzalez said. “Everyone comes with their own speculation.”
Former Council Speaker Nury Martinez, the first Latina to hold the position, resigned on Wednesday after President Joe Biden joined a chorus of officials calling on those involved to step down.
Martinez was recorded in the conversation saying that white Council member Mike Bonin treated his young black son as if he were a “prop” and used derogatory terms to describe them both, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday. .
At another point in the hour-long recording, she called indigenous immigrants from the Mexican state of Oaxaca “tan feos” or “so ugly.” The conversation also included rude and bigoted comments about Jews, Armenians and other groups.
The tape’s source “is a parlor game that takes place all over the city,” said former Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. “It may never be resolved.”
Two other Council members who attended the meeting remained out of public view on Friday, Gil Cedillo and Kevin de Leon, retaining their seats despite mounting pressure to resign.
No one at the meeting spoke publicly about the possible source of the recording.
The discussion focused on protecting Latino political power when redrawing council district boundaries, known as redistricting. The once-a-decade process can pit one group against another for political advantage in future elections.
The California Legislative Black Caucus said the recording “reveals an appalling effort to decentralize black voices during the critical redistricting process.”
The union federation did not answer a series of questions, including specifying who attended the meeting. He released a one-sentence statement that did not specifically say that the meeting with council members had not been recorded by the organization.
“It is not and never has been Fed policy to tape meetings,” Acting Chairman Thom Davis said in a statement.
In today’s tech-saturated society, it is simple to stealthily record a private conversation with widely available devices. Cell phones have very sensitive microphones and can easily be concealed in a briefcase, purse or backpack.
The recording reveals possible clues: clicks that could be briefcases opening and noises that sound like shuffling papers that could suggest a microphone somewhere on or near the table.
The language was appalling, Yaroslavsky said, and he could not recall any incident in which a private meeting between elected officials had been privately recorded. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the recording was posted on Reddit by a now-suspended user. It is unclear who recorded the audio or who uploaded it to the website.
The leak of the secret tape unsettled the Los Angeles political community, especially those who worked at the task force headquarters. Gonzalez, the Democratic leader, said people felt “in danger”.
Longtime Los Angeles-based Democratic consultant Michael Trujillo said whoever made the tape may never want to be identified. The person could be seen as a hero in some circles for speaking out against racism in the highest ranks of City Hall, but it could also expose the person(s) to legal action for recording a conversation without consent, which which is illegal in California. State law requires that a person making a recording of someone else obtain their consent.
“The problem is that this same hero is going to have to face criminal and civil cases,” he said.