LA City Council to consider Curren Price suspension amid corruption charges

One day after community leaders from embattled City Councilman Curren Price's district decried a proposal to suspend him while he faces criminal charges, a council committee Friday will consider moving ahead with the suspension.

With Price facing charges of embezzlement, perjury and conflict of interest, the council's Rules, Elections, and Intergovernmental Relations Committee will mull the suspension motion that was put forth last week by Council President Paul Krekorian.

Any recommendations by the committee would head to the full council next week.

Friday's committee meeting comes at a time when community leaders from Price's Ninth District -- as well as Price himself -- are calling for him to remain an active member of the body as he fights the corruption charges. All those parties say Price is presumed innocent and should be allowed to continue governing.


"This is our leader, this is our city councilor," Dr. Jerry Abraham, a community physician, said Thursday during a news conference in South Los Angeles.

"Let us be represented. Let us have a voice at the table so we can continue to do the work God has intended us to do -- to help, to heal ... to bring everyone together."

Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Urban Policy Roundtable, insisted that Price "has not been convicted of any crime."

"This (proposed suspension) effectively disenfranchises the voters and residents of L.A.'s poorest, most underserved Black and Latino district," he said. "This is wrong-headed and unconscionable and continues the council's blatant pattern of ignoring the wishes and needs of minority voters."

Those comments followed a statement Wednesday by Price, also pushing back against the suspension effort.

"I have lived my entire life in public service honorably and with no other focus than the best interests of my constituents," Price said.

"As such, I am eager to respond both to the misguided charges that have been filed against me, and the unfair aspersions that have been cast upon my wife. I am confident that the court, and any fair observers, will recognize that these charges are unwarranted."

Price went on to say, "Until I have had an opportunity to address the charges in court, it is inappropriate for the Rules, Elections, and Intergovernmental Relations Committee to recommend my suspension from the City Council. While I respect that Council President Krekorian has to take any allegations against a member of the council seriously, I am presumed innocent, as indeed I am, and the best way to protect the voices and concerns of those in my District is to allow me and my dedicated staff to continue to serve the needs of District 9."

On June 13, Price was charged with embezzlement, perjury and conflict of interest. The following day he stepped down from the position of council president pro tempore, and from his committee assignments.

Price, 72, has represented the Ninth District, which includes most of South Los Angeles and the western part of downtown Los Angeles, since 2013. He previously served in the state Assembly and state Senate.

On Tuesday, the council appointed Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson to replace him as president pro tempore. Price was not in attendance at Tuesday's meeting, and he will not attend any of the remaining meetings this week, according to his office.

RELATED: LA City Council elects Marqueece Harris-Dawson as the new president pro tempore

The charges allege that Price cast votes on projects involving developers with ties to his wife's consulting firm. He's also accused of embezzling money by having the city cover medical insurance premiums for his now-wife, even though Price was still married to his first wife at the time.

Price is the latest Los Angeles city official to fall into legal or political turmoil. Former council members Jose Huizar and Mitch Englander have both pleaded guilty to federal charges in recent years, while Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas was convicted earlier this year of federal charges for trading votes during his time on the county Board of Supervisors in exchange for benefits provided by USC to his son.

Former City Council President Nury Martinez resigned last year after being caught on tape in a racially charged conversation with two other council members and a county labor official discussing the council's redistricting process.