Oct 12, 2022 - Politics & Policy

California to investigate L.A. redistricting following City Council scandal

Photo of a masked Nury Martinez sitting at a desk

Then-Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez at a council meeting at Los Angeles City Hall on May 4. Photo: Hans Gutknecht/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images

California Attorney General Rob Bonta (D) announced Wednesday that his office will launch an investigation into Los Angeles redistricting after a recently leaked recording revealed L.A. City Council members made racist remarks during a conversation last year about redistricting.

Why it matters: The audio, which featured three Latino council members using derogatory language as they discussed the need to consolidate Latino power in Los Angeles, raises new questions about the city's once-in-a-decade redistricting process and its adopted map.

  • They can be heard emphasizing the need to "massage to create districts" that benefit them.

Context: In Los Angeles, an independent commission makes recommendations for drawing political boundaries, but the city council ultimately makes the final decision about district lines.

What he's saying: "As a father and human being, I am deeply appalled by the remarks made by some of Los Angeles’ highest-ranking officials," Bonta said in a statement. "Their comments were unacceptable, offensive and deeply painful."

  • "The decennial redistricting process is foundational for our democracy and for the ability of our communities to make their voices heard — and it must be above reproach," he noted.
  • "The leaked audio has cast doubt on a cornerstone of our political processes for Los Angeles. Given these unique circumstances, my office will investigate to gather the facts, work to determine the truth, and take action, as necessary, to ensure the fair application of our laws."

The big picture: The councilmembers involved faced a wave of backlash since the Los Angeles Times first published the audio.

  • Protesters interrupted the council's Tuesday meeting with chants of "Resign now!
  • Nury Martinez announced Wednesday she'd resign from the council. She previously said she would take a leave of absence after resigning from her position as president.
  • Experts say the racism heard in the recording underscores prevailing anti-Black and anti-Indigenous attitudes among many Latino communities.
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