Gabe Kaminsky on September 8, 2022
Los Angeles mayoral candidate Karen Bass’ full-tuition scholarship to a graduate program is being used as “critical” evidence in a separate federal probe into fraud and bribery, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.
Bass, a Democratic California congresswoman, was admitted in 2011 on a full-ride worth over $95,000 to the University of Southern California’s (USC) School of Social Work, the LA Times reported in November 2021. Now, prosecutors say Bass’ scholarship and USC dealings are “critical” to a probe involving former Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas and former USC Social Work Dean Marilyn Louise Flynn, who were indicted in October 2021 on fraud and bribery charges, the outlet reported Wednesday.
The California Democrat has not been accused of wrongdoing, according to the LA Times.
Bass reportedly did not apply for the scholarship and Flynn personally chose to hand her it, the LA Times reported. Flynn admitted Bass with the hope that the congresswoman would aid in passing legislation, prosecutors alleged in court filings, the LA Times reported.
It is unclear what that legislation was but Bass later co-sponsored a bill in 2014 called the Child Welfare Workforce Partnership Act that would expand USC and other private college’s ability to receive social work funding, the outlet noted. The 2014 bill did not pass and likewise legislation has not been approved.
It is unclear what specific dealings by Bass prosecutors reportedly view as “critical” to their separate probe. However, prosecutors intend to use these dealings as a portrayal of corruption at USC’s social work program, the LA Times reported.
The investigation into Ridley-Thomas and Flynn is in relation to their indictment after Thomas allegedly conspired to steer county dollars to USC in return for his son being admitted to the school on a full ride, court filings show. Both have plead not guilty.
A spokesperson for Bass did not respond to a request for comment, nor did her campaign or The U.S. District for the Central District of California.
Bass led her Democratic opponent Rick Caruso, a businessman, at a rate of 43% to 31% in a August poll by the UC Berkley Institute of Governmental studies that surveyed 1,700 registered voters. The poll had of error of plus or minus three points.
Ridley-Thomas and Flynn did not respond to requests for comment. USC did not immediately respond.
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