Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu today submitted his resignation, one week after news broke that he was the subject of a corruption bribe by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Sidhu’s terse resignation letter was submitted by his attorney, Paul S. Meyer.
“Mayor Harry Sidhu has always, as his foremost priority, acted in the best interests of the City of Anaheim, and he does to today,” wrote Meyer in his cover letter, saying Sidhu was stepping down to “allow this great city trio move forward with distraction.”
News of the probe broke on May 18 when Attorney General Rob Bonta asked the OC Superior Court to pause consideration of the settlement agreement he had reached with the city, allowing the slate of Anaheim Stadium to proceed. Bonta’s court filing included an affidavit from the FBI’s request the previous Thursday for a search warrant on Sidhu.
The next day, the FBI arrested Todd Ament, who resigned as Anaheim Chamber of Commerce president in October 2021, for mortgage fraud and allegedly misusing monies contributed by a cannabis to the Chamber to research and develop a potential cannabis policy for city consideration.
The complaint against Ament contained excerpts from wiretaps of an unnamed public affairs consultant, detailing extremely condescending conversations about allied Anaheim councilmembers.
By mid-week, the entire city council had called for Sidhu’s resignation.
The affidavits also alleged Mayor Sidhu “shared privileged and confidential information with the Angels during stadium sale negotiations, actively concealed same from a Grand Jury inquiry, and expects to receive campaign contributions as a result.”
Meyer denied the allegations in Sidhu first response to the allegations since the scandal broke.
“A fair and thorough investigation will prove that Mayor Harry Sudhu did not leak secret information in hopes of a later political campaign contribution,” wrote Meyer, declaring the “negotiations followed accepted lawful practices used in all major business negotiations.”
“No closed session material, no secret information,m was disclosed by Mayor Sidhu,” wrote Meyers. “The government affidavit confirms that Harry never asked for a political campaign contribution that was linked in any way to the negotiation process.”
Sidhu’s resignation comes as the City Council prepared for the possibility of declaring the mayor’s seat vacant. Sidhu missed last week’s meeting, and if he also skipped tomorrow’s meeting, the seat would be declared vacant by the end of the week, under the city charter.
According to a city statement, the council will address the vacancy at its meeting tomorrow, “in consultation with city attorney, city clerk, Anaheim’s charter and state law.”
Under the charter, the council has 60 days to fill the vacancy by appointment. If unable to do so, it must call a special election to do so.
“Given proximity to November’s election, where the mayor’s seat is set to go before voters, an election to fill the seat could be held at the same time,” the city statement says.
In the meantime, Mayor Pro Tem Trevor O’Neil will fill in as, essentially, acting mayor.
The city council is set to discuss the Angel Stadium agreement and “recent developments” tomorrow night. O’Neil has already expressed his desire to scrap the agreement and start over.
Meanwhile, the Angels are demanding the city proceed with one of the two versions of the stadium sale agreement, declaring they negotiated in good faith.