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Oakland Mayor refuses to resign after FBI raids. Her attorney, comms chief, just quit

A woman in a magenta blazer and light-colored top is standing at a podium with a microphone, smiling. There is text in the blurred background.
Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao spoke at City Hall Monday morning in her first public appearance since Feds raided her home. | Source: Camille Cohen/The Standard

Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao has refused to resign as the city’s 51st mayor, continuing a tumultuous 17-month tenure and a troubling week that saw FBI raids on her home and a mass shooting.

“I have done nothing wrong,” Thao told a press conference. “I can tell you with confidence that this investigation is not about me.”

“I will not be charged with a crime because I am innocent,” she added.

“I’m not going down like that, we’re not going down like that,” she said of the mounting pressure for her to resign. “The people who voted for me deserve to have their voices heard and communities prioritized.”

The mayor claimed her home would not have been “broken into” by the FBI if she were privileged and rich.

“When you’re in that much shock and your life has been turned up in an instant, it is hard to know who you can trust,” Thao said. “But what I do know is that this would not have gone down the way it did if I was rich, if I had gone to elite private schools, or if I came from money.”

Thao fumed that TV stations recorded the raids, which were also covered by national conservative news organizations.

“I want to know how the TV cameras knew to show up on my sleepy residential street so early in the morning to capture footage of the raid,” she said. “And I want to know why Fox News and Breitbart were so prepared to fan the flames and to tell a story that they want to tell, to bend the facts to shape the narrative.”

Attorney Tony Brass, who was representing Thao until Monday afternoon, has quit defending the embattled mayor following her press conference.

“I believe that the mayor and I had diverted in our paths about how to manage this case,” he told The Standard. “I didn’t know she was having a press conference today. I saw it on the news, and I decided it was probably not the right messaging for what I heard.”

By Tuesday morning, Thao’s Chief of Communications Francis Zamora, announced his resignation.

“I resigned my role yesterday. I thank my colleagues for their professionalism and dedication. It was an honor to serve the City of Oakland beside them,” Zamora said in a statement via the Mayor’s Office.

Thao’s home and three other residences were raided by FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service agents on June 20. Some have speculated the raid is part of a corruption investigation involving the Duong-family-owned California Waste Solutions, the city’s curbside recycling provider.

The FBI and USPIS have not commented on the nature of their investigation or the reason for the raids so far.

The raids came after a Juneteenth sideshow mass shooting on Grand Avenue by Lake Merritt that left at least 15 people injured. Thao has also been battling a recall campaign.

Thao made the announcement at City Hall, her first public appearance since the raids; no questions were allowed from reporters at the press conference. Protesters demanded she resign with milk cartons with missing posters of the mayor in a demonstration outside City Hall.

Thao, who took office in January 2023, has struggled to address Oakland’s crime rates. The city recorded its highest number of homicides in 15 years in 2023, according to police department data. Residential robbery rates are up across Oakland so far this year when compared to the same period last year by 95%. Total crime is down 33% over the same period, according to the most recent police data published May 26.

The mayor’s attempts to reform the police department met resistance, starting with her February 2023 dismissal of Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong. The former chief has announced he will run for a City Council at-large seat and is suing Thao and the city for wrongful termination.

Separately, a federal judge recently criticized the city for failing to meet court-mandated reforms, a process that has stretched over two decades.

Budget woes continue to plague Oakland. The city faces a projected $360 million deficit over the next two years, prompting discussions of potential service cuts and layoffs.

Thao’s supporters argue she inherited many of these problems and needs more time to implement solutions. Critics, however, claim her administration lacks clear direction.

George Kelly can be reached at