Oakland Mayor Thao denies wrongdoing after FBI raid

Sheng Thao spoke for the first time after having her house raided by the FBI.

Oakland, California’s mayor, Sheng Thao, gave her first public remarks since a raid on her home by federal authorities and stated that she did nothing wrong and has no plans to resign from office.

The raid included searches of two other houses owned by another family and occurred shortly after the city clerk informed backers of a mayoral recall that they had collected enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, likely in November.

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Driving the news: Recall supporters claim that public safety and economic vitality have worsened under Mayor Thao, and they believe she should not have fired Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong.

  • Cynthia Adams, president of the Oakland chapter of the NAACP, stated that the city needs capable leadership during this challenging time and noted that no other city officials have defended the mayor or appear to be in contact with her.

Go deeper: Mayor Thao, who took office in 2023, shared her personal story of being of Hmong descent and growing up in poverty, calling herself her ancestors’ wildest dream and emphasizing that she is the mayor of Oakland.

  • The raid also targeted two homes owned by members of the Duong family, which owns the recycling company Cal Waste Solutions, which has previously been investigated regarding campaign contributions to Thao and other city officials.

Immediate backlash: Tony Brass, the former Federal prosecutor who signed on to represent Thao, announced that he was dropping her as a client following the Monday press conference.

  • In an interview with CBS News, Brass said he decided to drop Thao “[b]ecause our paths diverted in terms of our approach to the case.”
  • The attorney told media on Monday that he did not know the Mayor would speak to the press and, had he known, he would have advised against it.
  • “When I heard the press conference this morning, a couple of things happened,” Brass explained during a Zoom interview with CBS News. “One is I did not know there was going to be a press conference. And then when I heard the content of the press conference, it became clear to me that the mayor and I had very different approaches or different philosophies about how to proceed, which is fine. She is the client.” 
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