District Attorney to Review Apartment Rental Arrangement Involving Herb Wesson's Son
Jay Yim, Oct. 29, 2019, 3:43 p.m.
On Monday, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office said that it would review the rental arrangement of City Councilman Herb Wesson's son, which is at a building linked to a Koreatown real estate developer.
Reports last week revealed that Wesson's son, Herb Wesson III, received the special rent treatment because Wesson helped a developer named Michael Hakim win city approval for a 27-story residential tower project.
Three people who lived in same building as Wesson III, said that they were well aware of the rent discount he was receiving, noting that it was because his father is a councilman.
A former tenant at that building, located on Rosewood Ave, said that Wesson III revealed during a private conversation that because his father was doing business with the building owners, he was receiving the discounted rent.
For more than five years, Wesson III went without receiving a single increase in rent. However, several other tenants who used to live in the building at that time said that their rent spiked routinely. Last year, Wesson III moved into a different unit within the same building.
Spokewoman Shiara Davila-Morales for District Attorney Jackie Lacey, did not provied any details regarding the review being done by her office, but said that there have not been any complaints from the public in response to reports of the issue. She did say, however, that “prosecutors are aware and will review the matter."
Spokesman, Ed Johnson, for Councilman Wesson, said that Wesson and staffers of his office are welcoming "any fair and unbiased review of the facts untainted by the council president's political opponents. This is a political hit piece made up of insinuations, and it won’t work."
Hakim said the district attorney's office did not reach out to him and made no comments on the decision to review. Hakim has been serving as chief financial officer of Rosewood Corp. (which is the company that owns the building where Wesson III is currently living).
Wesson III said that he is currently paying roughly $1,500 a month for a studio apartment in the Rosewood building, claiming "there is nothing special or remarkable about this lease. The only thing remarkable is how low my father's political opponents will go."
However, he did not mention how much his rent was at his previous apartment, which is where he lived when the Koreatown project was being reviewed and approved.
According to ethics experts, investigators should determine whether or not Wesson III should have publicly disclosed any rent discounts as a perk for working for Councilman Curren Price. In addition, enforcement agencies should look into whether or not his father played a role in it all.
The review and investigation comes amid Lacey's campaign for a third four-year term and faces hardship from George Gascon, who is the former D.A. for San Francisco.
Wesson endorsed Lacey's reelection bid and wrote on her campaign website, calling her a "compassionate, principled and transformational leader."
Wesson III is currently working as a government relations coordinator for 4thMVMT, which is an L.A. based company that partners with cannabis entrepreneurs who qualify for programs benefiting those hit hardest by the war on drugs. A spokeswoman for the company said that he focuses on government agencies other than L.A.
Karim Webb, the chief executive of 4thMVMT, was voted by the council last week to be a member of the city's Board of Airport Commissioners. Wesson was not present at the council chamber even though his appointment was approved.
Meanwhile, in the March election, Wesson will be running for a seat on the County Board of Supervisors.