Ex-Anaheim mayor refuses to publicly disclose emails amid FBI corruption investigation
The mayor of Anaheim, California, has refused to release the electronic mail that officials exchanged with a major donor and his company, a major cloud on an FBI corruption investigation.
The mayor, John Mirabella, is also refusing to hand over records of a meeting in April with the FBI in which the mayor and his chief of staff, Jennifer Satterfield, were separately questioned about what the donor and his company, the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, had said about the mayor.
Both meetings were held behind closed doors during which the mayor, his chief of staff and others discussed how the FBI could use the information to prove that a key city official improperly received favors for contracts with his firm and that Anaheim was willing to work with federal authorities, the Times has learned.
The FBI last week asked the Anaheim City Council for a series of records related to the investigation, which has dogged Mirabella since 2008. It follows a long series of allegations against the mayor, who has denied all wrongdoing while attempting to keep his job.
Mirabella’s refusal to release the information was first reported by the Times on Sunday. The mayor’s office also refused to release what it described as “personal information” regarding his boss but did provide copies of notes taken by city lawyers.
In an internal memo, the mayor’s office said that the emails and notes about city business would be released under the Freedom of Information Act. That law allows officials to withhold many types of records.
On Monday, the FBI asked a judge to order Mirabella to release the requested records, saying that he has no other legal recourse because the statute is vague on whether records can be withheld in some circumstances.
City officials said they were not surprised that a judge would order the release of the emails and notes; they were released under the FOIA in the past and have previously been handed over to the FBI.
Anaheim also has a tradition that anyone who has dealings with the city must fill out a “confidentiality agreement” that says that officials at the city are not to disclose information to anyone outside of the city unless someone has first requested the information, city officials said.
Mirabella’s officials said the mayor and his chief of staff — Satterfield — were not aware that