Attorney Anthony Brass no longer representing Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao

Brass withdrew from representing Mayor Thao after she held a presser Monday responding to FBI raid and recall effort

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Tuesday, June 25, 2024
Defense attorney withdraws from representing Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao
ABC7 political insider Phil Matier announces Defense Attorney Tony Brass' withdrawal from representing Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao.

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Just hours after Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao held a news conference on Monday to refuse calls for her resignation and proclaim her innocence in the wake of an FBI raid on her home, her recently hired criminal defense lawyer announced he will no longer represent her.

Five hours after the mayor's statement to the press, attorney Anthony Brass said via text message, "I have officially withdrawn as Sheng Thao's counsel."

His resignation added to the deepening turmoil surrounding the mayor, whose home was raided by the FBI last week, along with those associated with the Duong family, owners of the city's recycling contractor, California Waste Solutions.

While the FBI didn't say what type of investigation the raids were linked too, Thao, two members of Duong family and Cal Waste are all under investigation by the Oakland Public Ethics Commission, which is looking into alleged illegal campaign finance contributions.

RELATED: 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.

In a short press conference on Monday, the embattled mayor was defiant, saying that she had been wrongly targeted by federal officials and was being undermined by "radical right-wing forces" trying to remove her from office.

"I want to be crystal clear. I have done nothing wrong. I can tell you with confidence that this investigation is not about me," Thao said in a short statement to the press at Oakland City Hall, her first public appearance since federal agents showed up at her home on June 20.

Watch full speech from Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao

Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao delivered a passionate and emotional speech, where she addressed the FBI investigation, saying it is not about her and she has done nothing wrong.

So far, four days after the raids, only two members of the city council have released a statement and none of the city's leadership has voiced public support of the mayor.

Councilmember Janani Ramachandran issued a statement a few hours after the mayor's remarks on Monday morning, saying the city is "undeniably in a difficult moment" but adding she doesn't have enough information to make substantive remarks about the raid and those associated with the owners of the city's recycling contractor, California Waste Solutions.

News of the FBI raids broke in the wake of a mass shooting by Lake Merritt that injured 15 people and in the midst of the city's discussions about how to close a $177 million budget shortfall for the next fiscal year.

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

There is no official word about the reason for the investigation, but sources tell the ABC7 I-Team it involves a political corruption case against the mayor and some of her supporters.

The only other member of the city council to have mentioned the FBI raids publicly is Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas.

"I share the shock felt by many, and I call on all of us to remain focused on the important work of realizing a safe, connected and thriving town," Bas said Thursday on X, formerly known as Twitter.

RELATED: 'Where is Sheng Thao?': Oaklanders rally, question mayor's whereabouts as city budget looms

During her press conference on Monday, the mayor said she was blindsided by the FBI raid, and said a recall trying to oust her was being funded by "billionaires from San Francisco and Piedmont who are hell bent on running me out of office."

The mayor didn't take questions during the press conference -- saying it was upon the advice of her attorney -- and said she wouldn't step down.

"I will not be bullied, I will not be disparaged and I will not be threatened out of this office," Thao said.

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

The local chapter of the NAACP, however, on Monday continued its call for Thao to voluntarily leave office.

"At this critical time, Oakland can't have a mayor who goes into hiding and focuses on self-preservation," said NAACP Oakland President Cynthia Adams. "It is telling that no other city officials have defended the mayor, nor do any of them even seem to be in contact with her."

Former councilmember Loren Taylor, who lost a close election to Thao in November 2022, chimed in Monday morning before the mayor's remarks in a statement on X, criticizing "her deafening silence" after the Lake Merritt shooting.

"Unfortunately, I expect that when we hear from the mayor, we will listen to more "spin" and excuses, but receive none of the answers that Oaklanders deserve. Oaklanders do not feel safe in our city," Taylor said. "They do not trust City Hall. And they have no confidence that the mayor or her council allies are prioritizing the best interests of residents ahead of political ambitions."

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