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Anaheim Influence-Peddling Investigation Won't Be Done Until Well After Election

An A-shaped red sign reads: "Angel Stadium Anaheim"
The FBI corruption probe into the now-canceled sale of Angel Stadium has spurred a broader, independent investigation, ordered by Anaheim City Council, into political influence-peddling in the city.
(Ronald Martinez
Getty Images)
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An independent investigation into political influence at Anaheim's City Hall is ongoing and investigators are sifting through more than 180 potential witnesses, according to an update to the Anaheim City Council Tuesday evening.

The Anaheim City Council ordered the investigation in August following an FBI corruption probe that led to the resignation of former mayor Harry Sidhu. In a written report to the council, retired Judge Clay Smith, who's overseeing the investigation, wrote:

"The investigative team is actively gathering information … but we are certainly not yet able to form any opinions or conclusions. Second, it is critical to preserve the substance of our efforts confidential until the effort is concluded in order to avoid compromising the investigation."
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The investigation is expected to take six months, though Jeff Johnson from JL Group, the firm hired to carry out the investigation, said it could take longer.

The backstory: Sidhu is under federal investigation for allegedly providing confidential information to Los Angeles Angels representatives while negotiating the sale of Angel Stadium.

The city-ordered investigation is intended to provide a measure of transparency to Anaheim residents after FBI warrants revealed what it called a "covert group" that wielded influence over city government. That group included former mayor Sidhu, former Chamber of Commerce leader Todd Ament, and a Disney executive, among others.

What's next: The LA Times reported Tuesday that Sidhu's lawyer had refused to comply with a public records act request for emails and texts from personal accounts that Sidhu allegedly used to conduct city business. Smith said the city-ordered investigation had yet to run into similar roadblocks. "So far, we have not had to cross the bridge of anyone refusing to give us documents," he said.

Several councilmembers who are up for reelection in November are referred to in the FBI documents though no one has been formally accused of wrongdoing.

Councilmember Jose Moreno, who is termed out in November, suggested monthly updates on the investigation at city council meetings going forward, "so that folks know this is ongoing and we haven't forgotten it."