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Fed Tapes Include Herrera Talking with Former O’Farrell Staffer

“I’m worried about it because of fucks like Hugo Soto,” former LA Fed leader Herrera says to a former Mitch O'Farrell staffer.

In another leaked recording, now-former LA County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera talks with Hannah Cho, who left the office of Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell earlier this year to join the federation. Among other things, the two discuss their enmity for O’Farrell’s opponent in the Council District 13 race, labor organizer Hugo Soto-Martinez, and an effort to “buy” the endorsements of several Democratic clubs.

“Well, that’s it for my first house of labor meeting,” Cho at one point tells Herrera, who resigned earlier this week. “Other than,” she switches to a whisper, and appears to say either “a lot of Black people” or “a lot of white people.

At 4:48 of one of the recordings, Ron Herrera addresses the second person on the recording as “Hannah.” A number of sources, and an audio analysis comparing Cho’s voice on these recordings to her voice on other meetings, have confirmed to Knock LA that the voice belongs to Cho. Cho has not replied to Knock LA’s request for comment.

Update: We have updated the transcript of this clip from a previous version to better reflect the lack of clarity on the audio.

The conversation further links Herrera and disgraced ex-councilmember Nury Martinez to Mitch O’Farrell. Martinez elevated O’Farrell to president pro tem in September of last year, and her absence now makes him acting president of LA City Council. (In one recording, Gil Cedillo says to Martinez, “Where’s your pro tem?”)

O’Farrell has said a new president will be voted on by council on October 18.

“I’m worried because of fucks like Hugo Soto[-Martinez],” Herrera says. “That’s my opponent.”

They also discuss a plan to “buy” several Democratic clubs, including the LA County Young Democrats and the Stonewall Democratic Club, which is referred to as “the LGBT one.” Clubs vote on endorsements during election cycles.

Update: After publishing, Stonewall Democratic Club President Alex Mohajer issued a statement responding to the leaked audio, saying that he believes Hannah Cho worked to influence club endorsements. He also Tweeted that the club is not for sale.

She also describes Hans Johnson — president of the East Area Progressive Democrats — as a problem, and says that “DSA progressives” are adept at organizing online. “They don’t actually go outside. That’s why they’re so pale — all of them.”

The recording also indicates that the person who posted the audio to Reddit had access to a wider chronological range of recordings than previously understood. The previously released recordings of LA City Councilmembers Gil Cedillo, Kevin de León, and former councilmember Nury Martinez meeting with Herrera date back to October 18, 2021, while one of these recordings was made sometime in September 2022.

Cho says Soto-Martinez “is beloved by [Federation] staff, so I keep my cool about that, I don’t bring it up… I’m biased here, of course, with Mitch.” Cho left O’Farrell’s office sometime after April of this year — Cho’s name was included on O’Farrells office expenditures at least until then — although the City Ethics Department does not have a ‘Leaving Office’ file for Cho and thus could not confirm an exact departure date.

Cho speaks on the recording about being excited to be mentored by Herrera.

Cho has previously worked for former City Councilmember Herb Wesson, and for now-Supervisor Holly Mitchell. While working for Mitchell — who was a California state senator at the time — Cho allegedly made sexual comments that were deemed to be “unacceptable in the senate workplace” by an investigative unit commissioned by Mitchell.

Knock LA requested confirmation from O’Farrell’s office on the date of Cho’s departure from city government. Instead of a response from the office, we immediately received a call from a consultant on the O’Farrell campaign, who suggested the voice belonged to a different woman. The woman denied this, and we found that it is definitely not that person. For example, the person’s name is not Hannah — the name spoken on the recording.

O’Farrell has attempted to distance himself from Herrera — who in a previously published recording repeatedly referred to O’Farrell as “my guy” and made clear that his co-conspirators must “protect Mitch” through the redistricting process. In a recent interview with Larry Mantle of KPCC, O’Farrell said that he doesn’t “need to be protected from anyone” and that he’s not “anybody’s guy.”

A field director for the Soto-Martinez campaign has pointed out that three out of the five precincts that O’Farrell won in the June primary were new to his district as a result of redistricting. On Wednesday, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced an investigation into the redistricting process.

Cho suggests in the recording that Soto-Martinez should have moved to Council District 9 in anticipation of the district “turn[ing] Latino.” Herrera replies that he attempted to offer Soto-Martinez a job in exchange for his not running against O’Farrell. 

On Thursday, Soto-Martinez wrote on Twitter: “I was stunned to hear the former president of the Federation of Labor refer to a ‘deal’ to prevent me from running for City Council by offering me a job in Mitch’s office. I had previously heard rumors about Mitch trying to stop me from running for office by offering me a job. At the time and until very recently, not only was I insulted by the proposition — I thought it was a total joke.”

Additional Audio Leaks from LA Fed Meetings :

This recording was taken in September 2022. LA Fed President Ron Herrera and former O’Farrell staffer Hannah Cho speak about their opposition to CD 13 candidate Hugo Soto-Martinez and buying endorsements.
Another recording where Herrera is speaking to Hannah Cho where Herrera calls Soto-Martinez a “fuck” and says that he needs the utmost support from Soto-Martinez.
Herrera discusses moving funds around with an unnamed individual in a third recording.