On June 20, the FBI raided the home of Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao, carting away boxes of material. The purpose of the raid wasn’t clear, but it may have had something to do with Oakland’s recycler, California Waste Solutions, whose offices were also searched, along with the homes of CWS owners David and Andy Duong.

On June 24, Mayor Thao proclaimed her innocence and blamed the raid on “right-wing forces.” In a city home to the Black Panther Museum, and with UC Berkeley close at hand, that claim had locals wondering whom Oakland’s Democrat mayor had in mind. The raid on the mayor’s home wasn’t the FBI’s first Bay Area bust, and the state has been a target-rich environment for decades.

For example, in 2020, the FBI arrested San Francisco Department of Public Works boss Mohammed Nuru for public corruption and a long-running scheme involving multiple bribes and kickbacks. Many locals thought the arrest came years too late.

Nuru got his start working for the mayoral campaign of Willie Brown, who hired Nuru as DPW boss. When excrement began piling up on city streets, Nuru spent $400,000 on a study claiming that San Francisco was virtually spotless. Conditions got worse under district attorney Chesa Boudin, who refused to prosecute public defecation.

Nuru pleaded guilty to charges of defrauding the public of its right to his honest services, and in 2022 drew a sentence of seven years in prison. “Today’s sentence sends a clear message that public officials who abuse their power for personal gain will be punished,” said FBI special agent Sean Ragan. “Corruption happens in the shadows, often with the help of professional enablers who perpetuate fraudulent schemes and the corrupt who launder and hide their illicit wealth.” Something similar was going on in the state capitol of Sacramento.

In 2013, the FBI raided the offices of state Sen. Ron Calderon, Montebello Democrat, and the Latino Legislative Caucus. Calderon was found guilty on bribery charges and in 2016 sentenced to 42 months in federal prison. His brother Thomas Calderon drew 10 months for laundering bribe money through his company.

“Former Senator Calderon repeatedly violated the trust of the voters by taking nearly $160,000 in bribes in exchange for abusing his position as an elected official,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “The Calderons are now being punished for their roles in a bribery scheme that involved multiple forms of payments, as well as the attempted concealment of the scheme through money laundering and lies made to residents of his district. Politicians who violate their oaths by selling their offices will be discovered and will be prosecuted.” The Calderons should have seen it coming.

Back in 1988, the FBI set up a fake shrimp company that offered bribes to lawmakers in return for support on legislation. One bill even made it to the desk of Gov. George Deukmejian, who vetoed the measure.

The operation took down Sen. Joseph Montoya, Whittier Democrat, and Assembly Republican Leader Pat Nolan, who served two years in prison. The FBI also targeted Assembly Speaker Willie Brown and Assemblymember Gwen Moore, but the two Democrats never faced criminal charges.

At this writing, the “right-wing forces” allegedly arrayed against Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao have not come to light, and the FBI has yet to announce charges. “I have done nothing wrong. I can tell you with confidence that this investigation is not about me,” the mayor claims. “I have not been charged with a crime, and I am confident that I will not be charged with a crime because I am innocent.” Time will tell.

Meanwhile, the mayor faces a recall in November, and her city has recently come under fire on a different front. According to a recent WalletHub study, San Francisco is the worst-run city in the United States, followed closely by Oakland and Gulfport, Mississippi.