Meeting at center of LA City Council racism scandal also raising legal redistricting concerns
LOS ANGELES - The leaked audio from the October 2021 redistricting meeting between then Los Angeles City Council President, Nury Martinez and Councilmen Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo raises legal concerns.
Loyola Law Professor, Jessica Levinson, spoke with FOX 11 about the potential legal issues posed in the meeting.
"When I first heard the audio, what I thought is, obviously this is vile. This is racist, and this is despicable, and then I thought ‘oh my goodness is there going to be an effort to try to overturn the redistricting maps in the city of Los Angeles,’" said Levinson.
Levinson said the councilmembers openly discussed race to try to help certain minorities and diminish the voting power of other minorities in the drawing of district lines.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: LA City Council scandal: Nury Martinez announces leave of absence
"We're looking at potentially issues of California's Fair Map Act. We're looking at California's Voting Rights Act and the Federal Voting Rights Act. All of those essentially give procedures for how you can redraw district lines and what you should not do. Some of what we heard is potentially trying to dilute the power of African American voters and this is simply what you can't do when you draw district lines," said Levinson.
Martinez, de León and Cedillo were key in drawing the district lines that were eventually unanimously adopted.
State Attorney General, Rob Bonta, announced his office will be investigating the matter, and issued the following statement:
"As a human being, as a father, as someone who has committed his life to public service and takes great pride in representing the constituents that have decided — my bosses who have decided — to put me in office and allow me to do my best to represent them, to do as much good for them as I can: I, like so many others, find what was said unacceptable, offensive, painful, and hurtful. And there’s right and there’s wrong: It was wrong — what was said, what was done, what was expressed. And we have a state and a city that are reeling from it, appropriately so. It’s deeply painful and hurtful. And we take our job very serious here, as you know — and our duties, obligations, and responsibilities. So, we are assessing the nexus between what occurred, or may have occurred, and our duties and obligations to conduct an investigation, to get to the truth, to gather the facts, and apply the law to it. So, we are in that process now. We are looking. We do not have anything to announce at this time and, if and when we do, we will share it."
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: California AG Bonta investigating LA City Council scandal
The White House is also calling on three LA City council members to resign following racist comments made during a meeting last year.
During a press briefing Tuesday, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said President Joe Biden is glad Nury Martinez stepped down from her role as council president, but all those involved should resign.
The Los Angeles City Council introduced a motion Tuesday calling for the resignation of council members Nury Martinez, Kevin De León and Gil Cedillo amid backlash from racist remarks they made during a meeting in October 2021.
The City Council has also censured the three council members for their misconduct and statements.