Mayor Sheng Thao has 'gone dark on Oakland,' Libby Schaaf's former staffer says

J.R. Stone Image
Tuesday, June 25, 2024
Thao has 'gone dark on Oakland,' Libby Schaaf's former staffer says
Mayor Sheng Thao has "gone dark on Oakland" amid the FBI investigation, according to Libby Schaaf's former communications director Justin Berton.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao spoke for the first time since her home was raided by the FBI. Hours later, her recently hired criminal defense lawyer announced he would no longer be representing her.

"I want to be crystal clear, I have done nothing wrong and I can tell you with confidence that this investigation is not about me," announced Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao. She spoke Monday for the first time since her home was raided by the FBI last Thursday. For the first time since at least 15 people were shot in a mass shooting near Lake Merritt last Wednesday. And she spoke for the first time since enough signatures were gathered for a ballot measure that could recall her from office.

"I want to know more about the handful of billionaires from San Francisco and from Piedmont who are hellbent on running me out of office," said Thao.

VIDEO: Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao sheds tears in fiery speech responding to FBI raid, recall effort

The public heard from Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao for the first time on Monday since her house was raided by the FBI last week.

But it was that second part of her speech Monday where she made multiple references to billionaires in Piedmont and San Francisco that has policy experts and legal analyst Steven Clark scratching their head.

"The second half of her statement in which she brought out these preposterous legal positions that somehow this raid was the basis of a right-wing conspiracy I think was something that could come back to haunt," said Clark.

And we learned just hours after Thao's statement that the mayor and her attorney Tony Brass have parted ways. There are still questions on who left who.

RELATED: Attorney Anthony Brass no longer representing Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao

"The fact that there was a statement by the attorney which was quite eloquent on her behalf, then three days later there's a resignation sends the message that this situation is in disarray, it's not under control," said Clark.

During Thao's speech, she called out past elected officials in Oakland, but didn't name names. Justin Berton was director of communications for previous Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and is now a media relations strategist. He defended his former boss, Mayor Schaaf.

"She would have never walked away from Oakland like this mayor has right now," said Berton.

"And you think Sheng Thao has walked away from Oakland?" responded ABC7 News reporter J.R. Stone.

MORE: Calls grow for Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao to resign following launch of FBI investigation

"I think Mayor Thao has gone dark on Oakland. I think she has walked away from them and she's keeping to herself."

Berton says he's disappointed that other leaders aren't more vocal in Oakland at a time when strong leadership is needed to pass a budget that will help address concerns in Oakland.

"We have a vice mayor, we have a city council president, we have a city administrator, we have a city attorney. Any one of those people could come to the podium and tell Oaklanders what the hell is going on right now and all of them are choosing to sit on their hands," said Berton.

Mayor Thao saying she will be 100% transparent with the investigation but also not taking questions from reporters on Monday.

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