Acting Los Angeles City Council President Mitch O’Farrell removed Councilmembers Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo from committee positions and assignments on Monday following leaked audio recordings that revealed incriminating allegations of corruption and racism within the chambers.
O’Farrell, who replaced former council president Nury Martinez after she announced her resignation last week, has asked De León and Cedillo to step down. However, amid facing calls to vacate their seats, both councilors have refused to leave. Instead, O’Farrell striped the city officials of their chairmanships and committee positions that deal with issues such as real estate, development, housing, and homelessness.
“The only recourse is resignation or recall,” O’Farrell told The Los Angeles Times. “I do not see the remaining two members who haven’t resigned coming back to council with any level of credibility whatsoever.”
Heard in the audio recordings with Martinez, Cedillo, and de León was Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera, who resigned from his position last week shortly after Martinez.
During the closed-door recorded conversation, L.A. officials met to discuss how the city would redraw council district boundaries over the next ten years — geared toward helping Latino political leaders maintain their power, re-elect Latino members, and protect economic interests.
However, the leaked audio recordings, first published by anonymous Reddit users and later reported by The Los Angeles Times, exposed Martinez’s racist statements about a fellow council member Mike Bonin, a gay white man, and his adopted black son.
Martinez also made remarks about Oaxacan immigrants living in the Koreatown neighborhood of Los Angeles and offensive comments regarding Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón’s association with the black community.
Councilmember de León made offensive comments in the recording about Bonin.
O’Farrell said he urged De León Monday morning to resign but has not received a response from the councilor since last week.
“I made it really clear he absolutely should not attend any future council meetings,” O’Farrell said, according to Axios.
O’Farrell said he also spoke with Cedillo last week.
“I felt that he was reconciling his feelings about this transgression and understood the gravity of the moment,” O’Farrell said, adding that Cedillo would not make an appearance at the council.
The Los Angeles Times report de León and Cedillo have expressed an apology or regret for their involvement.
While Cedillo said he “should have intervened” when his colleagues used “racially divisive” language, De León said he regrets “appearing to condone and even contribute to certain insensitive comments made about a colleague and his family.”
“My mission, and my duty, is to help this city heal and to keep it moving forward so that we can all move on from this terrible time,” O’Farrell added.
With LA City Council’s house of cards crumbling, city officials are expected to elect a new president Tuesday, which O’Farrell has reportedly said he does not want to hold.