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Key figures in FBI’s raid on Oakland mayor’s residence

The Oakland chapter of the NAACP has ⁢requested Mayor Sheng ‌Thao’s resignation after FBI raided her residence, citing a⁤ crisis in the city. Thao has not been seen since the raid. ⁤The NAACP’s call ⁣for her resignation follows the verification​ of enough signatures⁢ for ⁢a‌ recall vote⁤ scheduled alongside recent violent incidents in‌ the⁢ city.‍ Additionally, FBI agents also raided homes and offices related to⁢ the⁣ Duong family, ⁤owners ‍of California‌ Waste Solutions (CWS), a company involved⁢ in politics, who allegedly tried to influence local, state,⁣ and⁢ national decisions. The Duongs have faced accusations of secretive campaign contributions using “stramb donors” during city contract negotiations. The city and CWS settled a lawsuit over overcharges in 2021. ⁤The ongoing investigations and raids suggest ⁤deeper issues ‌regarding governance and transparency within the city’s political⁢ and business dealings.


The Oakland chapter of the NAACP has called on Mayor Sheng Thao to resign following the early-morning FBI raids on her home Thursday.

The Oakland chapter said the city “has a cloud hanging over it today” and that Thao should step down from her post ahead of recall efforts to oust her.

FBI agents raid a home on Maiden Lane where Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao allegedly lives in Oakland, California, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (Jessica Christian/San Francisco Chronicle via AP)

Thao has been missing in action since the raid and her spokespeople had no information on her whereabouts or schedule, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday afternoon. The mayor’s absence has puzzled residents in a city that had already been plunged into a crisis.

Thursday’s raid followed the verification Tuesday of enough signatures to qualify on a November ballot to recall the mayor. It also followed a slate of shootings on Juneteenth at Lake Merritt.

Federal agents also raided the homes of David Duong and his son Andrew Duong, whose family owns California Waste Solutions, a recycling company that has a lucrative contract with the city. A third raid was carried out at offices shared by the company and the Vietnamese American Business Association, led by multiple members of the Duong family.

The FBI has remained quiet on the reason for the raids, but there have been allegations that the Duongs have injected themselves into city, state, and national politics for quite some time and have tried to buy influence and power.

Here’s what we know so far about the key players in the case.

California Waste Solutions

The company was founded in 1992 and is owned and operated by the Duong family.

The company is run by siblings David Duong, who serves as the company’s CEO and president; Kristina Duong, its CFO; and Victor Duong, the company’s vice president.

The company is based in Oakland but also operates in San Jose. They have also created an integrated waste management facility in their native Vietnam, according to the company website.

In 2014, the Oakland City Council voted to award the company a billion-dollar contract to run the city’s trash and recycling collection services. The move raised some eyebrows after some Oakland city officials objected, complaining that the company was too small and too inexperienced to carry out the work.

Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao speaks during a news conference at Laney College in Oakland, California, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023. Federal authorities raided a home belonging to Thao early Thursday, June 20, 2024, as part of a California investigation that included a search of at least two other houses, officials said. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File )

Waste Management, a much larger corporation that had also put in a bid for the contract, also objected, claiming CWS was ill-prepared. In the end, the Oakland City Council divided the contract, awarding Waste Management the trash pickup contract and CWS the recycling gig.

Today, CWS provides recycling collection services to every household in Oakland. They also provide commercial recycling to Oakland businesses.

CWS began its partnership with the city of San Jose in 2002. It is now the city’s lead recycling agency and collects recyclable material from more than 160,000 households per week.

Lawsuit

Oakland sued CWS in 2017 for overcharging some landlords in multiunit buildings, making millions more in profit than the company should have.

In 2021, both parties settled under a deal where CWS would refund the landlords $6 million and reduce their monthly premium service rate, according to the Oaklandside.

The city also agreed to refund CWS for some alleged overcharges.

FBI agents exit a house associated with Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao during a raid in Oakland, California, on Thursday, June 20, 2024. Federal authorities raided a home belonging to Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao early Thursday as part of an investigation that included a search of at least two other houses, authorities said. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group via AP)

Duong family

The 16-member family escaped Vietnam during the war in 1979 and resettled in San Francisco.

The Duongs squeezed themselves into two studio apartments when they got to California and started the uphill climb to financial stability.

The family had owned the largest paper mill in South Vietnam before they moved to the United States. When they got to California, the family collected cardboard after school until midnight for several years and was eventually able to purchase their first recycling warehouse in West Oakland, according to the company website.

The family’s social media sites are filled with pictures of Andy and David Duong with powerful politicians. The close ties raised eyebrows for some.

In 2019, Oakland’s Public Ethics Commission and the state Fair Political Practices Commission launched a joint investigation into David Doung and his family after receiving a tip that the family secretly gave thousands of dollars to Oakland City Council members’ campaigns.

The Duongs were accused of funnelling $67,000 into the campaign coffers of Dan Kalb, Lynette McElhaney, Rebecca Kaplan, Abel Guillen, Desley Brooks, and Thao, who had been on the council at the time.

The money was given while the city was negotiating with CWS about the relocation of its West Oakland facility. It also took place while the city attorney was in negotiations with the company over allegations it overcharged landlords.

The Public Ethics Commission claimed that David and Andy Duong used “straw donors” to hide the money they gave City Council members. Investigators subpoenaed 13 people but most refused to cooperate, the Oaklandside reported.

The investigation is ongoing.

David Duong

David Duong is the oldest of his siblings and serves as the company’s president and CEO.

Duong has donated thousands of dollars to the campaigns of Sens. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Tim Kaine (D-VA). He and his son have also donated to local and state campaigns, including to California Attorney General Rob Bonta.

David Duong’s Facebook account has pictures of him with the governors of Maine, Montana, New Jersey, Kentucky, Virginia, Kansas, Arizona, New Hampshire, and New Mexico. He also shared photos he took with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and former Secretary of State John Kerry.

Andy Duong

Andy Duong is the son of David Duong.

His Instagram account is filled with pictures of him and powerful politicians including Thao, former District 6 City Councilman Loren Taylor, and District 2 Councilwoman Nikki Fortunato Bas.

He also has pictures of himself with Bonta, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA), President Joe Biden, and Vice President Kamala Harris.

Thao, Vietnam trip, and the Duongs

In 2023, Thao led a trade delegation to Vietnam.

It was the mayor’s first overseas trip and she was there to promote the Port of Oakland.

Thao went on the trip with Oakland and Alameda County officials, including Sheriff Yesenia Sanchez and Supervisor Lena Tam.

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The delegation was sponsored by the Bay Area Council and the Vietnamese American Business Association, of which David Duong and his brother Victor Duong serve as chairman and vice chairman.

“This trip was an investment in Oakland’s future, by cultivating critical relationships that will grow our city’s economy,” she said.



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