By now the whole world knows that former Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch Englander is a sleazy corrupt fellow who was in Las Vegas in 2017 on June 1, 2, and maybe 3 being bribed with cash, liquor, and women and that he was accompanied on this funhouse mirror hero’s journey by his as-yet-unindicted co-conspirator and then-chief-of-staff John S. Lee, sitting Councilmember for the Twelfth District, known in the ever-increasing number of official indictments and mockingly on Twitter as City Staffer B.1
Lee admits that he went along with Mitch on the trip, but he continues to maintain that he did nothing wrong and, says Lee, that he “was unaware of any illegal activities for which Councilmember Englander is being charged.”2 Not only did, according to himself, do nothing wrong but also, according to his spokesperson Grace Yao3 he especially “absolutely [was] not” supplied with women. It’s certainly curious that Lee denies everything but he extra-super-duper denies that part.
Almost as curious as the fact that Lee omitted that June 2017 trip to Las Vegas from his official 2017 appointment calendar, which I recently obtained from the City of Los Angeles via a Public Records Act request. You can see that he had a full day of actual work on June 1. Presumably he traveled to Las Vegas with Mitch that night. On June 2 he has nothing at all listed except a late-night 11 PM meeting with a mysterious as-yet-unidentified figure known as Justin Cruz.4
June 3 isn’t on the calendar at all, and on Sunday, June 4, Lee’s only appointment was “Shopping with Mitch.” Mitch, no doubt, had his $10,000 in illegal cash bribery money burning a hole in his corrupt little pocket and needed someone to spend it with to whom he wouldn’t have to explain where it came from. Lee, as we’ve seen, denies that he knew that Mitch was up to anything illegal on the trip.5 Which, if true, implies that Lee thought that the trip had some kind of legit purpose.
And he was going with his boss so it’s plausible that he thought6 that it had some relation to his job. But the fact that Lee didn’t put the trip in his calendar really contradicts this version of things. If he was going on a legitimate trip for legitimate purposes with his as-far-as-he-claims-to-have-known legitimate boss then why leave it off the calendar unless he wanted to hide it? And why would he want to hide it if he really thought it was legitimate?
Of course, you might think, maybe he habitually left such things off his calendar. Maybe this particular omission means nothing because he just never calendared his out of town trips. Or maybe he thought the trip wasn’t work-related and he never calendared personal trips. But this excuse won’t fly. We have the guy’s entire 2017 calendar. For comparison, here are some of the that year’s travels he did enter:
► January 19-20 — Sacramento
► January 25-27 — Dallas
► February 3-5 — Palm Springs
► February 9-10 — Sacramento
► February 16-19 — Las Vegas
► February 24-26 — Paso Robles
► April 7-9 — Anaheim7
► April 13-16 — Palm Desert
► May 11-19 — Orlando
► June 7-8 — Carlsbad, CA
► June 10-17 — Zion
► June 14-17 — Las Vegas8
► June 18-25 — Cabo San Lucas
► June 27-28 — Turlock
And these are not all strictly business trips, either. The February 3 trip to Palm Springs, the February 16 trip to Las Vegas, and the April 7 trip to Anaheim are all for cheerleading competitions.9 Not only that but Lee quit his job with Englander in June 2017, which surely explains his two weeks in Las Vegas, Zion, and Cabo San Lucas. It probably also explains the chronological overlap with the first two, which is a normal vacation thing.
So not only did Lee habitually enter clearly work-related trips into his calendar, he also made entries for clearly not-work-related trips, e.g. to cheer competitions. He even entered trips he took after he quit his job. This is a good reason to think that Lee’s omission of the June 1-3 Las Vegas trip from his calendar is meaningful. To me it says that at the very least he knew something shady was going on.
And all this combined with the fact that not only does Lee now deny he knew something shady was going on but, through his spokesperson Grace Yao, takes extra care to deny that he was bribed with access to female escorts, makes me think he was more than knee-deep10 in the shady goings-on. But we’ll certainly know for sure when his indictment is published!11
Image of City Staffer B is ©2020 MichaelKohlhaas.Org and once upon a time, friends, once upon a time.
- The whole situation is getting really Byzantine at this point but this story by the incomparable Natalie Brunell is a really good guide to what’s currently known.
- Which leaves open the really pressing question of whether Lee was aware of illegal activities for which Councilmember Englander is not being charged.
- Who is also, tangentially, in charge of violating the California Public Records Act both frequently and egregiously on Lee’s behalf.
- If you know who this is please let me know!
- Subject as noted above to his weirdly specific caveat about not being aware of anything illegal that Mitch has been charged with.
- In this fantasy world version where everything was innocent that I’m accepting in this paragraph purely for the sake of argument.
- Not a huge journey but he did get a hotel so I’m including it.
- Possible reasons for this overlap are discussed later in this post.
- I’m leaping to the conclusion that attendance at competitive cheer events wasn’t part of Lee’s job. And as tempting as it is to joke about this it seems more likely than do any of the really attractive possible subjects for mockery that Lee’s kid is involved in competitive cheer. Won’t I be embarrassed though if I’m burying some really lurid lead here!
- Note the care with which I avoid modifying the cliche to include other potentially more suggestive body parts even though I habitually modify cliches as a matter of rhetorical style. That, friends, is editorial restraint!
- Or, on the off chance that either he didn’t break the law or the FBI didn’t catch him at it, when he testifies against the rest of these creepers!