The Mayor’s Corruption Trial Is a Clique Within a Clique

L.A. bribery trial spotlights City Hall corruption in run-up to election

The three-week-long bribery trial of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is a case about power, money and politics as seen through the lens of a mayor who appears to wield more power with the same amount of money than any other American politician.

The defense has tried to shift the spotlight away from the mayor to his fellow city leaders, portraying them as a clique within a clique.

When it was time to ask a question, the defense would start with its own. The defense would suggest an answer instead of a direct question. The answer would be given, and then the defense would follow with a question designed to lead the prosecution to its own answer.

The trial has been riveting, as more than one observer has noted, with the drama unfolding in both the courtroom on the fourth floor of the Los Angeles County Superior Court in downtown Los Angeles, and in the lobby where the defense has been camped out for the past several days awaiting the opening statements of the prosecution.

It is the first high-profile corruption case in Los Angeles City Hall in more than a decade, since former Councilman Bernard Parks was convicted on corruption charges. The defense is not denying the existence of corruption, but it is trying to shift the focus of the trial to the defendant, and to portray him as an outlier.

“We do not condone the alleged actions of Mayor Villaraigosa or his staff, and we’re determined to make it clear to the voters of our city that we can’t afford someone this incompetent.” — City Councilman Tom LaBonge on the mayor’s case

“I will not have a trial on the Mayor’s criminal conviction,” attorney Bill Ryan said on Wednesday. “We will have a trial on whether or not he is unfit to serve.”

Ryan declined to take questions on Thursday, but did send a message to the city attorney, who he said was trying to “hijack” the trial by scheduling the trial on a Monday afternoon when the city has closed for the weekend.

Rynan is the attorney for former councilman Willie Brown and former council member Bill Rosendahl, who were indicted on corruption charges. The

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