Los Angeles/ Politics & Govt
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Published on May 12, 2024
Los Angeles City Hall Racism Scandal Update, Suspects Referred for Potential Misdemeanor Charges, Councilmember Sues for Privacy InvasionSource: Google Street View

The scandal involving a racist recording at Los Angeles City Hall has taken a new turn as the case has been referred to the city attorney, who will decide on possible misdemeanor charges against two individuals linked to the leak. Santos Leon and Karla Vasquez, former employees of the L.A. County Federation of Labor, have been identified by authorities as suspects. An investigation traced the online post of the recording and a new Twitter account to the couple, who are married, KABC reported.

Although L.A. County prosecutors acknowledge a crime may have been committed with the recording and leak, they have declined to file charges due to the lack of a criminal record for the suspects, and precedent within their office for not pursuing felony charges in similar cases. Instead, the responsibility falls on City Attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto's office, according to details in a memo made public, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Kevin de León, the only council member still in office following the scandal, has taken legal action by personally suing Leon and Vasquez for invasion of privacy, amidst being recently reappointed to several city committees. The leaked recording, which surfaced online in 2022, included racist remarks and detailed discussions aimed at increasing Latino political influence during Council district realignments. It led to a reshuffling of power within City Hall, including the resignation of then-City Council President Nury Martinez, ABC News stated.

Despite the controversy and the clear indication of a crime by the leaked audio, legal follow-through remains uncertain. "The evidence indicates that a crime was committed," prosecutors have said in the memo, yet the decision not to press charges but to refer them to the city attorney has, brought doubt over the repercussions faced by those who leaked the conversation. The incident, highlighting issues of privacy versus public interest, continues to stoke debates around ethical boundaries and the law's reach, according to AP.