After FBI Raid, They Just Might Not Need That Recall in Oakland

This week we’ve had both hanky-panky and bigtime FBI action happening, including an FBI raid on a home in Oakland associated with Mayor Sheng Thao the day after her recall qualified for the Nov. 2024 ballot. In Sacramento, former San Francisco District 6 supervisor and current Assemblymember Matt Haney was caught with his hands in the cookie jar after buying some luxury sports tickets — something I reported on X and discussed with Haney back in 2023. 

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The recall of Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao that qualified for the Nov. ballot was big news on June 19, but it was eclipsed early the next morning when the FBI raided a home associated with Thao’s boyfriend and his family. Neighbor Maribel Sainez told Politico, “FBI agents were heard ‘banging’ on the mayor’s door around 6 a.m., waking up the quiet street in Oakland’s Lincoln Highlands neighborhood” in the swanky Oakland Hills. Sainez also said Thao was escorted out of the home by FBI agents. Spokesperson Cameron Polan in the FBI’s San Francisco office confirmed to media that the bureau is conducting “court-authorized law enforcement activity on Maiden Lane.” A public records search found the home, located at 80 Maiden Lane, was previously owned by Eloise Christensen Jones Hansen (now deceased). Sources say it’s also possible an “elderly woman named Vera Jones” now resides there. The current owner is Karen Kristina Stokes (deed granted in 2020 by a trust belonging in part to Jones Hansen), who, along with Vera Jones, may be related to Thao’s boyfriend, Andre Jones. In a December 2023 X post, Jones said he was “the person who designed the state’s cannabis grant equity program.”

The FBI also searched the offices of California Waste Solutions at Oakland’s Embarcadero, the home of California Waste Solutions’ Andy Duong on View Crest Court, and the home of California Waste Solutions’ David and Linda Duong on Skyline Boulevard. According to a Sept. 15, 2020, Oaklandside article, the Oakland Public Ethics Commission, the city’s independent watchdog agency, quietly launched a major investigation into allegations that the owners of California Waste Solutions, Oakland’s curbside recycling provider, illegally laundered campaign contributions to multiple members of the City Council. Court records revealed that Public Ethics Commission investigators believe the owners of California Waste Solutions, including David Duong and his son, Andy Duong, funneled money over several election cycles through “straw donors” to multiple councilmembers’ campaign committees.” (A straw donor is someone who makes a campaign contribution and secretly gets reimbursed by someone else who is barred from making the same contribution.) The funds allegedly went to councilmembers running for reelection at the time, and to one councilwoman, Lynette Gibson McElhaney, to pay for an attorney who defended her in a separate ethics case. Besides McElhaney, the Public Ethics Commission named four other councilmembers who accepted some of the allegedly laundered money: Sheng Thao, Rebecca Kaplan, Larry Reid, and Dan Kalb.

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In June 2018, investigators uncovered an internal Sheng Thao for Oakland City Council email between people working on Thao’s campaign. A Thao representative wrote to other team members asking about people they would like to invite to the campaign’s “finance committee” to raise money. “Have you spoke with Andy Duong about $20,000 by June 30th?” the campaign representative asks. “Between June 20 and June 29, 2018, 14 contributions were provided to the Sheng Thao for Oakland City Council 2018 committee, seven of which were admitted reimbursements by or on behalf of Duong,” investigators wrote.

Beege Welborn

OMG what a snek pit.

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