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Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors member Mark Ridley-Thomas. Photo: Mark Davis/Getty Images for CDF)

Los Angeles City councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas and a former dean at the University of Southern California's School of Social Work were indicted Wednesday on federal corruption charges over an alleged bribery scheme.

Why it matters: The longtime politician is accused of "supporting county contracts and lucrative contract amendments" in exchange for a relative receiving "substantial benefits" in his previous role as an L.A. County supervisor, per a Department of Justice statement.

  • The Democrat is the third L.A. city councilmember to face federal charges in two years, the Los Angeles Times notes.

Between the lines: The family member is not named in the indictment, but the L.A. Times reported in 2018 that USC provided a scholarship to his son Sebastian Ridley-Thomas.

  • "USC appointed him as a professor around the time that then-Supervisor Ridley-Thomas had funneled campaign money through the university that ended up in a nonprofit group run by his son," according to the L.A. Times.

Details: The 20-count indictment, filed in Los Angeles federal court, alleges that 66-year-old Ridley-Thomas conspired with Marilyn Louise Flynn, 83, formerly a tenured professor and dean of USC's School of Social Work.

  • She allegedly agreed to "provide Ridley-Thomas' relative with graduate school admission, a full-tuition scholarship, a paid professorship, and a mechanism to funnel Ridley-Thomas campaign funds through the university to a non-profit to be operated by the relative," according to the DOJ.
  • Prosecutors allege that Ridley-Thomas supported contracts involving the USC school — including an amendment to a contract with the Department of Mental Health that would bring the school "millions of dollars in new revenue," the DOJ said.

Of note: "Sebastian Ridley-Thomas was serving in the Assembly at the start of the alleged bribery scheme, which [allegedly] ran from 2017 through 2018," per Politico.

  • "He resigned from that position in December 2017 amid a sexual harassment investigation, citing health problems," the news outlet adds.

What they're saying: Ridley-Thomas could not be immediately reached for comment, but Flynn's attorney Vicki Podberesky told the L.A. Times that her client "has not committed any crime and we believe that the evidence in this case will ultimately support this conclusion."

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Fauci fires back at Rand Paul for slam on tonight's "Axios on HBO"

Responding to charges by Sen. Rand Paul on Sunday's "Axios on HBO," NIAID director Anthony Fauci told "ABC This Week" that it's "molecularly impossible" for U.S.-funded bat virus research in China to have produced COVID-19.

Why it matters: The issue 0f Wuhan research was reignited on the right last week with a National Institutes of Health letter to Congress disclosing more about the research.

Manchin, Schumer huddle with Biden in Delaware to discuss spending bill

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (L) and Sen. Joe Manchin (R) at the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 13, 2014. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will meet with President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday morning in Delaware as Democrats look to reach an agreement on the massive spending measure.

Driving the news: Democrats are still negotiating what to keep in the bill and how to pay for it, with Biden saying on Thursday that the party does not have the votes to raise the corporate tax rate.

4 hours ago - Technology

Scoop: Facebook exec warns of "more bad headlines"

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

In a post to staffers Saturday obtained by Axios, Facebook VP of global affairs Nick Clegg warned the company that worse coverage could be on the way: “We need to steel ourselves for more bad headlines in the coming days, I’m afraid.”

Catch up quick: Roughly two dozen news outlets had agreed to hold stories based on leaked materials from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen for Monday publication — but the embargo fell apart Friday night as participating newsrooms posted a batch of articles ahead of the weekend.