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FBI Agents Raid Home of Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao

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FBI agents are seen at 80 Maiden Lane in Oakland on June 20, 2024, carrying multiple boxes from a residence. After loading the boxes into their vehicles, the agents departed without commenting to reporters, only confirming that they had cleared the scene and no agents remained. (Annelise Finney/KQED)

Updated 4:55 p.m. Thursday

Federal agents raided Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao’s home on Thursday morning, throwing the embattled leader into further turmoil as she faces an upcoming recall election.

The FBI conducted “court-authorized law enforcement activity” in an area of Maiden Lane where the mayor lives, a representative for the agency said in a statement, but would not provide more details.

Neighbors heard FBI agents arrive around 6 a.m. and knock loudly on the door of the home, they told a KQED reporter at the scene.


Shortly after 10 a.m., about two dozen agents carried multiple boxes out of the home, put the boxes in cars and left. They did not comment to reporters other than to say they had cleared the scene and no agents remained.

Someone in the house spoke with agents as they left, but it was unclear who that person was.

Neighbor Nina Medina, president of the National Latino Peace Officers Association, told KQED in Spanish that because law enforcement needs a judge’s approval to conduct a search warrant, the raid was likely to be about something serious.

Thao has yet to comment on the development. She had been scheduled to be at a 10 a.m. press conference in San Francisco about affordable housing; the organizers said they did not receive any advance notice that the mayor would not attend.

“This is a sad day for the City of Oakland,” former Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong, who is running for City Council, said in a statement. “Oakland is a city in crisis. Crime, violence, shootings, uncontrolled homelessness, unmitigated encampments, the budget deficit and more. The biggest obstacle to overcoming these crises are the failures of leadership in City Hall.”

The FBI also searched separate homes on View Crest Court and Skyline Boulevard in the Oakland Hills on Thursday morning, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The homes are believed to be owned by members of a family that owns Cal Waste Solutions, Oakland’s curbside recycling provider. The Chronicle also reported that Cal Waste’s offices were searched Thursday morning. Oaklandside previously reported that the company was investigated for campaign contributions to Thao and other elected officials.

“This is rough, to say the least,” said PJ Johnston, political strategist and former press secretary for former Mayor Willie Brown, who faced numerous FBI investigations during his tenure. “At the initial stages of an FBI investigation, it’s all bad publicity, and you are almost helpless in your ability to fight back.”

The Oakland Public Ethics Commission is also investigating the Oakland mayor in relation to donations to her campaign. She had come under scrutiny in recent months over concerns about crime and the departure of the Oakland A’s baseball team, and she will face a recall vote in November after her opponents collected enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.

“If there is evidence that emerges that she acted improperly, that on its own is a fairly decisive problem,” Johnston said. “But even if there isn’t anything serious against her, she still faces weeks, months of horrible publicity — all of which helps recall advocates and hurts her ability to lead the city of Oakland.”

Thao has “very little chance of survival,” according to Eric Jaye, the president of California-based political consulting firm Storefront Political Media, because the FBI investigation and the attached media blitz are unlikely to be resolved before November.

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