PALMDALE – A Palmdale City Council member called on Mayor Jim Ledford Friday to take a voluntary leave of absence pending the completion of an investigation being conducted by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
The nature of the investigation remains a mystery, but the District Attorney’s Office served a series of search warrants on Wednesday, including searches of Ledford’s City Hall office and his home.
“While we still don’t know a lot and we want to ensure an open and fair process for anyone under investigation, as public officials we hold ourselves to a higher standard,” Palmdale City Councilman Austin Bishop said. “With that in mind, I will be asking my colleagues on the council to consider several modest steps to protect our residents and demonstrate that we are all committed to the highest ethical standards, and that no one is above the law.”
Among those steps is one asking Ledford to voluntarily take a leave of absence until the investigation is completed.
Ledford could not be reached for comment.
Bishop also said that since the investigation appears to center on Ledford’s relationship with city contractors, the city should consider suspending contracts with companies involved in the probe.
He also suggested the city hire an outside attorney “to ensure full cooperation with law enforcement.”
Lancaster Mayor Rex Parris, an attorney who represented a Palmdale man who sued the city over council districting in 2013, said earlier this week the investigation might be tied to comments Ledford made during a deposition in the case.
Parris told CBS2 that during the deposition, Ledford testified he was being paid $60,000 a year in a consulting job, but he didn’t have any evidence of actually doing any work.
“That is a gift,” Parris told the station.
The Los Angeles Times reported that, according to the deposition, the head of the consulting firm for which Ledford worked, Susan Miller, was also executive director of the Aero Institute, which leased a rent-free building from Palmdale at the same time Ledford was working there. A complaint about Ledford’s relationship with Aero Institute was filed in 2013 with the Fair Political Practices Commission, The Times reported. [View the complaint here.]
Ledford, 63, was elected to his 13th two-year term as Palmdale’s mayor last November. The city does not have term limits.
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