ANAHEIM, Calif. (May 19, 2022 with ongoing updates) The city of Anaheim and all members of Anaheim’s City Council have condemned actions documented in a federal investigation of Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu and a former Anaheim Chamber of Commerce executive.
We learned of this just as our community did ― for the first time this week ― and share the shock, dismay and frustration of many.
Here is what has happened and how Anaheim has responded:
Monday, May 16: Anaheim learns of an affidavit in a federal investigation of Sidhu; Anaheim publicly shares affidavit on city website and with major media outlets. Anaheim issues a statement of being troubled and dismayed about what is described and that the actions were outside the city’s knowledge and process on the Angel Stadium of Anaheim site. You can read more here.
Monday, May 16-ongoing: Anaheim shares information and comments with TV news, newspapers, online publications and other media.
Tuesday, May 17: Anaheim learns of federal charges against former Anaheim Chamber of Commerce executive Todd Ament.
Tuesday, May 17: Anaheim City Council holds regularly scheduled meeting with Mayor Sidhu absent; Council Members Avelino Valencia and Jose F. Moreno call for Sidhu resignation, Mayor Pro Tem Trevor O’Neil and Council Members Jose Diaz, Gloria Ma’ae and Stephen Faessel express serious concerns.
Wednesday, May 18: Mayor Pro Tem O’Neil and Council Members Faessel and Diaz issue a formal request for the mayor’s resignation to Sidhu’s lawyer. “The deeply troubling issues that have come to our attention involving Mayor Sidhu since May 16, 2022, raise serious concerns and questions about his ability to continue as mayor of Anaheim,” the letter reads. “I and my City Council colleagues now must seek to support the continuity of municipal government, uphold the public trust and continue with the business of the City of Anaheim without the distraction and uncertainty created by the federal investigation involving Mayor Sidhu.” The city is awaiting response to the letter. You can read more here.
Wednesday, May 18: In a separate statement Council Member Gloria Ma’ae calls for Mayor Sidhu’s resignation.
Thursday, May 19: Anaheim learns through media reports that cannabis consultant Melahat Rafiei was a cooperating witness in the investigation into former Anaheim Chamber of Commerce executive Todd Ament. Rafiei steps down as a commission on Anaheim's Culture and Heritage Commission, an appointment made by former Anaheim Councilman Jordan Brandman, who stepped down from the Council in 2021. Rafiei reportedly worked federal investigators as the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce advocated for a proposal for Anaheim to allow cannabis businesses to operate in the city; the City Council rejected any change to the city's prohibiting of cannabis businesses on June 9, 2020.
Thursday, May 19, Friday May 20: Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem Trevor O'Neil, Council Member Stephen Faessel and City Manager Jim Vanderpool share with media that they attended a Dec. 2, 2020, meeting referenced in the federal complaint against former Anaheim Chamber of Commerce executive Ament, saying what they recalled attending was a business meeting focused on the economic, city budget and other impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, the pending rollout of vaccines and other issues related to Anaheim's economy. "What I attended was a business meeting, like others I have attended with various stakeholders in our city," Mayor Pro Tem O'Neil said. "If this meeting or any other meeting was viewed differently by others, that was not my experience or understanding."
In the days ahead, Anaheim will continue to work administratively and with City Council members to address this difficult moment and move forward in the best interest of our city.
Residents, businesses and visitors should have no concerns about our city’s commitment to serving our community. Police, fire, utilities, Community Services, Public Works, Planning and all parts of city continue their work as usual.