Tom Umberg

Umberg, Daly, Correa call for recusal of councilmembers in stadium deal

Senator Umberg issued the following statement on May 23, 2022 to the Orange County Register in response to Mayor Sidhu’s resignation. He, Assemblymember Daly, and Congressmember Correa also all co-signed the attached letter to the Anaheim City Council that afternoon.

“I think it’s the appropriate thing to do,” said state Sen. Tom Umberg, D-Santa Ana, of Sidhu’s resignation between votes on the Senate floor.

“As a former federal prosecutor, I’m aware that the names of all those who are identified generically in the affidavits will eventually be known. I also think it’s appropriate that, rather than waiting, those people in Irvine and Anaheim should step forward and identify themselves so we can start to get this behind us.”

This statement was released by the Office of Senator Tom Umberg. The following letter addressed to the Anaheim City Council was attached to the statement.

Dear City Councilmembers:

We write to you today as a unified voice to request an immediate investigation into current and former Councilmembers that have been identified as a part of the federal investigation.

As noted in our previous letter (dated 05-17-2022) on this subject, the Criminal Complaint filed by the federal government in regard to Todd Ament, former Chief Executive Officer of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce1, and corresponding Ex-Parte Application filed by Attorney General Rob Bonta2 pose a multitude of questions with which this Council and the taxpayers of Anaheim will need to grapple over the coming years.

In combing through the 150-plus pages of documents and the publicly-released wiretap transcript, we have noted that at least five former or sitting Councilmembers are referenced. These Councilmembers are generally identified in the federal Complaint as follows:

  • Elected Official 1 – Council Member, City of Anaheim (page 10 et al.)
  • Elected Official 2 – Council Member, City of Anaheim (page 9 et al.)
  • Elected Official 3 – Council Member, City of Anaheim (page 9 et al.)
  • Elected Official 4 – Council Member, City of Anaheim (pages 13-14)
  • Consultant 2 – Former Council Member, City of Anaheim (page 20 et al.)

As new information continues to come to light about this federal investigation, five things are abundantly clear:

  1. The proposed sale of Anaheim/Angel Stadium must be cancelled;
  2. The City Councilmembers identified in the investigation may be required to recuse themselves in any negotiation involving the Anaheim/Angel Stadium and cannabis issues until after these criminal investigations are concluded;
  3. Additionally, it is unclear if city staff involved in the federal investigation can even participate in an unbiased recommendation regarding any details on this subject;
  4. In conducting any future negotiations with the Angels — the non-recused Anaheim Councilmembers should appoint a professional and independent negotiator; and
  5. Prior to continuing any negotiation – an independent appraisal be performed of any proposed property being considered for sale.

We, the undersigned, have the best interests of the city and taxpayers of Anaheim in mind. It is not in the best interest of the city nor its taxpayers to move forward with the sale of the Anaheim/Angel Stadium, an arrangement that appears to have been negotiated illegally.

We want to once again urge you to act expeditiously and determinedly to rectify this matter and seek justice for our shared constituents. As continuously offered, we stand ready to assist with any state legislation or action that may be needed as a result of the investigations and reviews, including (but not limited to): clarification of the California Surplus Lands Act; the tightening of, or increasing penalties associated with, corruption; and/or the negotiation of public contracts by officials not acting expressly on the public’s behalf.

We look forward to your next steps and restoring the trust of Anaheim residents in their local government.

Sincerely,

Thomas J. Umberg
Senator, 34th District

Tom Daly
Assemblymember, 69th District

Lou Correa
Congressmember, 46th District

1 United States of America v. Todd Ament, Criminal Complaint by Telephone or Other Reliable Electronic Means, dated 05-16-22
2 People of the State of California, and California Department of Housing and Community Development v. City of Anaheim and City Council of the City of Anaheim, Ex Parte Application to Stay the Approval and Entry of the Proposed Stipulated Judgement; Declaration of David Pai in Support Thereof, dated 05-17-22