Cannabis is confirmed to be at the center of the federal probe happening in Orange County. The probe began in Anaheim with the City’s mayor allegedly giving confidential information to the owner of the Angels baseball club to get favorable terms on purchasing the land from the city, and allegedly in exchange for $1 million contribution to an independent expenditure for the re-election of Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu.
Details continue to become public of how the probe crosses Anaheim’s boundaries into the city of Irvine.
Melahat Rafiei, a longtime leader in Orange County’s Democratic Party, resigned from her position as secretary of the California Democratic Party and state representative to the Democratic National Committee. She provided a statement on her social media account to speak in her own words.
According to an affidavit from FBI special agent Brian Adkins, Rafiei was arrested on attempted bribery after federal agents allege she told a cannabis company that hired her she planned on bribing two Irvine City Councilmembers in exchange for favorable legislation in the city.
Rafiei previously identified herself as CW1 in the affidavit, while the cannabis company employees are identified as CHS1 and CHS2.
“CW1 began to devise a scheme whereby CW1 would solicit money from CHS1 and CHS2 with the intention of paying bribes to two elected members of the Irvine City Council in exchange for the Council Members performing official acts, resulting in the passage of favorable cannabis laws,” states the affidavit.
“CW1 was arrested on a complaint (based on the 2018 corruption scheme involving Irvine officials) and subsequently brought to the FBI office in Orange County where CW1 was interviewed,” Adkins wrote. “CW1 agreed to cooperate with the FBI during CW1’s interview.”
“I also believe CW1 has omitted material facts to investigators throughout CW1’s cooperation with the FBI, including additional instances where CW1 has offered to pay bribes to elected public officials,” Adkins wrote in the filing that charged the former CEO of the City’s chamber of commerce.
“CW1 and the government have not been able to reach an agreement on a pre-indictment resolution, and at this time, there is no further cooperation expected.”
Rafliei was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to the board of the Orange County Fair in late 2021. She has resigned from that board too.
How far will this federal probe go? Too many elected officials are getting caught up in nefarious activities related to the cannabis industry as they appear to benefit from the all cash industry that intersects with their campaigns.
To read the affidavit, click here.