Oakland Mayor Speaks Out After FBI Raided House

After last week’s FBI raid on Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao’s home, the politician gave a moving address in which she proclaimed her innocence. 

Attempting to connect the “FBI intrusion” to a recall effort that aimed to depose her in November, Thao—the first Hmong mayor of the Bay Area city—cast herself as the victim instead of a culprit in the investigation. 

Cal Waste Solutions, owned and operated by Andy Duong—a member of the Duong family—has been under investigation by a local ethics tribunal about campaign donations to Thao and others; the FBI has not revealed the reason for the raid, although it co-occurred with another raid at Duong’s house.

At the news conference, Thao expressed her anger through tears as she described the terrifying moment authorities broke into her house on Wednesday. 

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters reported sufficient signatures to place Thao’s recall on the November ballot the day before the raid. Thao is the first mayor of Oakland to be subjected to a recall.

The federal government searched her, her son’s, and her partner’s home, as well as two other residences, and removed 80 boxes as part of their investigation. An FBI spokeswoman said that the agency had engaged in court-authorized law enforcement activity but would not elaborate. 

As the city struggles to cope with an increase in crime, it contributed to the drive to recall Thao. Several well-known companies, such as Denny’s and In-N-Out Burger, have closed their sites in the city due to the crime problem. In February, Governor Gavin Newsom dispatched 120 cops to Oakland to increase the number of police officers stationed there.

When questioned why the FBI hadn’t contacted Thao to ask for her voluntary assistance before searching her house, a visibly upset Thao talked tearfully about her fight to overcome poverty in the US at the news conference. According to Tony Brass, Thao’s attorney, the Oakland mayor was not the one who was being investigated at the moment. Federal investigators can count on Thao’s complete cooperation.

Thao, who claims to have come from humble beginnings and is of Hmong heritage, assumed office in 2023.