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Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao on June 24, 2024 (Photo: City of Oakland)

Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao Denies Wrongdoing From FBI Raid, Blames “Right Wing” Forces

Thao Gives First Press Event Since Raid Last Week

By Evan Symon, June 25, 2024 2:45 am

In a press conference on Monday, Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao spoke to the media for the first time since the FBI raided her home last week, claiming she was innocent of any wrongdoing and that ‘right-wing forces’ were behind the entire incident.

On Thursday of last week, only a few days after the recall effort against Mayor Thao succeeded in putting the recall election against her on the ballot, the FBI raided her house in Oakland. At around 6 A.M., FBI agents raided 4 locations in and around Oakland, including Mayor Thao’s home in the Lincoln Highlands neighborhood. The FBI was there for four hours, coming out with many boxes before leaving after 10 A.M.

While no official word on why the raid was conducted has yet to come from either the FBI or Thao, it is known that the subjects of the other three raids, California Waste Solutions and it’s executive officers David and Andy Duong, have been the subjects of an ongoing investigation into alleged illegal campaign contributions. Some of those contributions had been allegedly laundered with several Oakland City Council members receiving them a few years ago, including then City Councilwoman Thao.

Throughout the rest of the week and the weekend, Mayor Thao faced a growing pressure to resign, with Democrats and Republicans alike saying she needed to step down after the multiple issues.

In a statement, Oakland NAACP President Cynthia Adams said that “The city has a cloud hanging over it today. While the public should refrain from a rush to judgment, the leadership of the NAACP and its members are calling on Mayor Sheng Thao to resign immediately and spare the city the cost of a recall. Oaklanders deserve a mayor who is not distracted, fully committed, and able to lead the city. Clearly, Mayor Thao cannot focus on the needs of the residents of Oakland while she addresses the major challenges posed by the FBI raid and investigation.

“The city is also facing a massive budget deficit including the freezing of positions and loss of critical city services. Businesses are closing every day, and this incident only contributes to the decline in the city’s reputation and makes it harder to attract new businesses to Oakland. The mayor should resign and give the city an opportunity to heal and move forward. We are asking everyone to please keep those impacted by violent crime and the safety of all the residents of Oakland in their prayers.”

Thao had been silent throughout the weekend. But on Monday, Thao gave what has been called an ‘odd’ and ‘unhinged’ press conference, claiming she was innocent and that a right wing conspiracy was behind the efforts against her.

“I want to be crystal clear: I have done nothing wrong,” said Thao at the press conference. “I can tell you with confidence that this investigation is not about me. I have not been charged with a crime, and I am confident that I will not be charged with a crime because I am innocent. I want to know why the day following the qualification of a recall election, funded by some of the richest people in the Bay Area, seemed like the right day to execute a warrant. Right-winged forces are fueling the recall effort.

“And when my parents came to this country fleeing genocide, they never could have imagined that their daughter would one day be mayor of Oakland. I am my ancestors’ wildest dream. And I am your mayor: Mayor Sheng Thao.”

Public reaction of her press conference was largely negative on Monday. Many questioned Thao’s claims of a right wing conspiracy, with the push to get her reign not slowing down in the aftermath. Thao’s outburst was so bad that her attorney, Tony Brass, quickly resigned as her counsel as her speech had been unplanned.

Recall supporters, led by Oakland United to Recall Sheng Thao (OUST) and former Alameda County Superior Court Judge Brenda Harbin-Forte, also said on Monday that Thao lied in accusing that they had anything to do with the raid, and in turn, questioned how much Thao knew before the FBI search.

“I have no power over, we have no power over the FBI, the IRS, the U.S. Postal Service,” said Harbin-Forte. “Those signatures that we gathered were not based on some kind of conspiracy. These are people, common, everyday people. Oakland is headed for bankruptcy. We are not going to survive this administration. We can not afford to keep her in.”

Pollsters in Alameda County also gave better odds following the press conference that she would resign.

“Think of Thao as a four-engine plane,” said Alameda County pollster Elena Sierra on Monday. “Engine one went out with the recall effort succeeding in putting it on the ballot. Engine two went out with the FBI raid. Crazy press conference today that was so bad even her lawyer left her? There goes engine three.

“Right now is her hope that the FBI’s announcement into why the raid was done doesn’t directly implicate her. She needs the FBI to say that they only searched her house for periphery materials or something innocent that in no way involves her. That or something like that happens, and she can limp along and hope that another scandal doesn’t erupt.

“She survived the Oakland police chief firing, the A’s leaving and all that, but she had 3 major things go wrong in less than a week. The FBI raid alone is enough for a legitimate call to resign. . You can tell in her voice how stressed she is, and that outburst was, well, she threw all her media coaching out the window. She lost a lot of credibility today. She honestly thinks there was a right wing conspiracy to oust her in favor of…another Democrat in a largely liberal city? This is something the Onion would run.

“Over under, it is looking more likely that she may resign, but as from her speech on Monday, it sounds like she’ll do everything to not make that happen.”

More announcements on the FBI raid, as well as a more official press conference from Thao, are expected later this week.

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6 thoughts on “Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao Denies Wrongdoing From FBI Raid, Blames “Right Wing” Forces

  1. Go to link below to see the longer version of the Sheng Thao angry, desperate, lying press conference. She is a ridiculous political figure (voted in with ranked voting, by the way), what she says is comical and preposterous, and the chat accompanying the video is hilarious because she is loathed by everyone and they all want her gone.
    “Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao post-FBI raid press conference”
    She’s in big trouble and will probably be gone soon. Hope any fallout from this takes a bunch of other worthy skanky politicians with her. Guess we’ll see.

  2. Sheng Thao was not the favorite to win the Mayor’s seat. As ShowandTell pointed out, Oakland uses the despicable ranked voting system, which confuses many and may not elect the best person for the job.
    Ms. Thao displayed her political acumen yesterday and it is clear she is not the right or best person for the job! Wow, she sure does know how to play the victim. She is somehow connected to the Duong family who are now under investigation. Let’s hope the FBI does a proper investigation. Could it be that her live-in boyfriend and his family business, California Waste Solutions recycled some cash and influence to get her in office?

    The news in the bay area is that many local politicians have ties to this family. I hope it keeps some of these self serving, politicians up at night and even behind bars. As Merick Garland likes to remind us, no one is above the law, including the Bontas perhaps.

    I find the most outrageous thing she said was the SF and Piedmont right wingers are out to get her!! I laughed my behind off! Piedmont, really? I think Piedmont might be a little center left but I think it is where many leftist, “Karens” reside.
    This is far from over. Maybe, just maybe, she will save the taxpayers some money on the recall and GO AWAY.

    Unfortunately Oakland is a pithole with so many issues affecting the residents. I do not see it recovering from years of bad leadership. Remember Jerry Brown rekindled his political career in Oakland, just sayin’.

    1. Thanks for this CG, from someone who is in the area affected by Sheng and has better, closer eyes on it.
      The word does seem to be out that the whole circus tent could come crashing down, and some — hopefully MORE than “some” —- of our most “ethically-challenged” (crooked) politicians crashed along with it. Could it happen? That’s the hope —- and I sure as heck hope it’s not a false hope. All i know is that I am ready to pop the popcorn should the $%#@ hit the fan. We’ll see…..

  3. “Right wing forces” are behind the recall? Does that make the NAACP a “right wing force”? As Katy Grimes posted: “Are there any right wingers in Oakland”? Just maybe twelve!

  4. There is no right wing conspiracy, but there is an ongoing conspiracy against Oakland’s taxpayers who pay more for less services and little police protection.
    Sad day for what was once a beautiful city with three championship professional teams, large businesses like Clorox and Kaiser and a thriving port. But those days are long gone.

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