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Home / Karla Vasquez

Report: LA City Hall racism leak investigators search home of labor fed workers

Los Angeles Police Department investigators searched the home of two people who worked at the L.A. County Federation of Labor as part of the department’s investigation into a secretly recorded conversation that sparked last year’s City Hall racism scandal, it was reported Monday.

The Los Angeles Times, citing sources who spoke anonymously because of the ongoing investigation, reported that officers searched the Eagle Rock home of Santos Leon and Karla Vasquez earlier this month. The two are married and were employed by the federation when the recording took place.

Police took Leon’s computer as part of the investigation, the Times reported.

Police Chief Michel Moore previously said the department’s Major Crimes Division was investigating the leak at the request of “individuals that were present at that meeting” — which included former Council President Nury Martinez, former federation President  Ron Herrera and Council members Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo. A representative for de León later said the council member did not request an investigation.

It remains unknown who recorded the racism-laden October 2021 conversation that took place at the offices of the federation, and who leaked it. The leak triggered a series of events that led Martinez to step down as City Council president and then quit the council altogether.

De León and Cedillo faced relentless calls for them to resign as well, although both resisted. De León remains on the council, but Cedillo’s term ended in December. Herrera also resigned as president of the federation.

The Times reported that Leon, who has been working for the federation as an accountant, declined to comment through his lawyer. Vasquez, who formerly worked as Herrera’s executive assistant and left the federation in March, according to her LinkedIn profile, also declined to comment, as did her lawyer.

Los Angeles Magazine reported last week that Leon had been questioned in connection with the probe.

Last Tuesday, the federation called an emergency meeting to update its executive board on the findings of the organization’s internal investigation into the recording, the Times reported. The internal investigation led to the discovery of sound-editing software on Leon’s computer, which the federation turned over to the LAPD, according to the paper.

Leon was placed on leave and remains a federation employee, according to the Times.

In a Twitter post last year, the federation rejected “any accusation” that a member of its organization was involved with the leaked audio.

Neither the federation nor LAPD provided additional comments, citing the ongoing investigation.

The recorded conversation first appeared on Reddit before being removed from the social news aggregation, content rating and discussion website.

California is a “two-party consent” state, meaning that all parties – – not necessarily just two — participating in a conversation must give their approval for the conversation to be recorded. Violators could face both civil and criminal penalties.

The four individuals in the meeting were discussing the city’s redistricting process and other efforts to disenfranchise voters, ostensibly to maintain and increase political power.

Among other comments in the recorded conversation, Martinez belittled then-Councilman Mike Bonin, who is white and has a Black son, and criticized the child for his behavior at a Martin Luther King Day parade.

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