Oakland mayor's former chief of staff details what she shared with FBI during 2023 meeting

Saturday, June 22, 2024
Oakland mayor's former chief of staff met with FBI before raids
Mayor Thao's former chief of staff described an office filled with confusion and chaos - much of it centered around the mayor's partner, Andre Jones, and that finally led her to resign.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- In the day since the raid on Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao's home and several other locations, we've been getting new information about the political corruption investigation from someone interviewed by the FBI. It's the mayor's former chief of staff, and she spoke to the I-Team's Dan Noyes. She described an office filled with confusion and chaos - much of it centered around the mayor's partner, Andre Jones, and that finally led her to resign her position as the mayor's chief of staff.

"Not only did I run her office, I was very instrumental in helping run her campaign," Renia Webb said.

RELATED: Silence from Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao after FBI raided her home

Webb tells us she served as chief of staff for Thao for a year-and-a-half, and that she questioned the amount of money Andy Duong was funneling to the campaign. Webb says she shared her concerns with the FBI in a meeting on February 3, 2023; she gave us texts and emails from the FBI that confirmed the meeting.

Renia Webb: "And just the line of questioning I could tell that they had already been looking into, you know, some of their kind of pay-to-play type of activities."

Dan Noyes: "Oh, really? What sorts of things were they saying in terms of the questions about pay-to-play?"

Renia Webb: "Just about board appointments, about contracts, about Andy, you know about the Duong family."

Webb says she knew Thursday's raid by the FBI was coming. We spotted Andy Duong leaving his house, and his name on evidence boxes that IRS agents carried out of the Duong family business, California Waste Solutions.

RELATED: FBI raids Oakland mayor's home, several other locations in political corruption probe: source

The Oakland Public Ethics Commission lead investigator confirms to the I-Team that the Duongs are still under investigation for a money laundering scheme. Court documents we've reviewed allege that Andy Duong arranged contributions to candidates, including Sheng Thao, using straw donors. Some of the phony donors allegedly came from Phuc Tran, President of the Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce. In response, Phuc Tran said he wouldn't cooperate in the investigation based on his Fifth Amendment right "to be free from being compelled to incriminate himself."

Webb tells us the end for her as chief of staff came on the day Thao was sworn in, and that the mayor's partner, tried to bring his ex-wife into the ceremony. "And then finally, I was like, 'Andre, I don't know what's wrong with you, but you got to get the hell out of here.' I was like, this is too much. I don't know what's going on. Sheng was crying. She was like, why would you do this to me on my day like this is crazy."

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Webb tells us she texted Thao during the raid, to say she's praying for the mayor.

"She has a good heart. And she came in this wanting to do it. But sometimes that power and that machine just takes people to another level," said Webb. "In the wrong direction... and we're all paying the consequence for it."

Thao has hired a new lawyer who says they have no information that she is the target of any investigation. Webb also says Andre Jones, who is not an employee of the City of Oakland, was trying to get jobs and positions for Mayor Thao's donors and supporters.

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