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Sheriff Candidate Matt Rodriguez’s Open Letter to the L.A. Democratic Committee Regarding Cecil Rhambo’s Involvement in “The Most Corrupt Regime in the History of LASD”

Dear LACDP Central Committee Member, 

 
As the critical vote on Tuesday for the endorsement of Cecil Rhambo rapidly approaches, I am compelled to share a few observations with you.  I’ll start with the obvious.  Cecil Rhambo was third in command during the most corrupt regime in the history of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.  Both of his bosses, Lee Baca and his best friend, Paul Tanaka went to federal prison.  Cecil Rhambo failed them. He has now recast himself as an outsider, who is best prepared to solve the internal problems plaguing the Sheriff’s Department.  There is no bigger insider in this race than Cecil Rhambo.  He was the Assistant Sheriff in charge of the Custody Division while inmates were being brutalized.  A preferred tactic was to shatter the inmate’s eye sockets with flashlights.  Cecil failed to quell the violence, hence the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) need to infiltrate the jails to expose a pattern and practice of violence and brutality.  Our federal partners did not trust Rhambo enough to notify him of their intentions.  Ultimately, ten deputies were sentenced to federal prison.  Cecil Rhambo failed them too.  Although he claims to have been a whistleblower, I have yet to see one shred of evidence that shows he notified the Department of Justice (DOJ), or FBI, that his bosses and subordinates were corrupt.  It wasn’t until the FBI was knocking on his door that he testified about his observations. 
 
Circulating around the internet is an infamous picture of a much younger Cecil Rhambo flashing a gang-like sign while in uniform.  He was surrounded by a group of off-duty deputies drinking beer.  In the center of the photograph is Cecil’s best friend and confidant, Paul Tanaka. Cecil Rhambo had been close to Paul Tanaka since they were teenagers in high school.  Cecil owes his career to Tanaka.  When Tanaka ran for multiple terms as Mayor of Gardena, Cecil Rhambo was his biggest supporter.  He spent years collecting campaign donations for Tanaka, pressuring subordinate employees to participate, and alienating those who failed to cooperate.  Several times a week, Rhambo and Tanaka would exercise together by going on runs during their lunch breaks.  It was widely known the two men ran the Sheriff’s Department.   Every Friday afternoon at 3:15 PM, Cecil Rhambo would enjoy a cigar with Tanaka in the notorious patio out in front of Sheriff’s Headquarters.  It was there the “Good Ole Boy” network thrived and careers were made or destroyed.    
 
Cecil Rhambo was the Assistant Sheriff during the period in which deputy subgroups/ gangs flourished.  The tattooed deputies were formed and empowered at Sheriff’s stations such as Century, Lennox, Compton, and East Los Angeles.  Cecil Rhambo did nothing to eradicate deputies emulating gang members in the organization.  When pressed, I’m confident he will not identify any deputy gang member, and cannot recall a time when he disciplined a single one for violating civil rights or abusing people of color.  That fact is in stark contrast to the rhetoric in his slick candidate videos.  He talks of promising to decertify alleged deputy gang members, knowing full well he does not have the legal authority to do so.  His former partner, Paul Tanaka, was a known Lynwood Viking.  The group was deemed by Federal Court Judge Hatter as a neo-nazi organization.  Factual or not, Cecil Rhambo was not dissuaded from associating with Tanaka on a daily basis.  In fact, they promoted tattooed deputies throughout the department into positions of authority.  I encourage you to Google Cecil Rhambo’s name along with the words Deputy Gangs, and you will find his name prominently displayed as an associate gang member.  In contrast, Google my name and you’ll find an article by Frank Stolz of LAist on why I stood up to a deputy sub-group. 
  
The Cecil Rhambo running for Sheriff is quite different from the one I witnessed in the Sheriff’s Department.  He was a lifelong Republican who last June suddenly changed his party affiliation to Democrat.  He claims to have made a mistake in his registration, stating that he’s voted Democrat all along. His voting record cannot be proved or disproved.  How are we to have confidence in a person who cannot manage his own party registration and now wants to manage 18,000 employees and a $3.5 billion budget?  There are a lot of inconsistencies in Cecil Rhambo’s campaign claims.  In a recent interview he removed his shirt and displayed a tattoo on his back.  He claimed to have got the tattoo to have more street credibility when working undercover.  People in law enforcement scoffed at that claim.   In my 32 years working in and around law enforcement, I’ve never met anyone who tattooed their body for the job.  He recently told Reporter Ceriste Castle that he had been involved in one shooting.  The truth is he was actually involved in three shootings, two of which he shot his own partners.
 
Cecil Rhambo and I do agree on one thing, Alex Villanueva must be removed. But his scare tactic of leading you to believe he must be endorsed now to prevent Alex Villanueva from prevailing in June is a false narrative.  The Democratic Party is a powerful machine.  You had the power to put Villanueva in office, surely you can remove him.  As leaders of the democratic party, you have the fiduciary responsibility to vet out your candidate to the best of your ability.  All of the information in the email is easily verifiable and I implore you to do your homework.  You owe it to yourself, your party, and the entire County of Los Angeles to ensure that you endorse the right candidate at the right time.  Alex Villanueva betrayed the democratic party like no other.  The last thing you need is to be deceived again and endorse the wrong candidate.  I am asking you to do your due diligence on Cecil Rhambo.  Do not blindly follow the recommendation of others who may have a hidden agenda.       
 
I ask you to please take a moment to familiarize yourself with my campaign.  After thirty-two years in law enforcement and government, I have a long legacy of reform.  As a Captain in the Sheriff’s Department, I held deputies accountable.  I am the only executive to have stood up to Lee Baca and his corrupt regime.  My post Sheriff’s Department career includes being a Deputy Director of Transit Security in San Diego, Interim City Administrator and Director of Public Safety in the City of Commerce, and Public Safety Manager at Metrolink.  I also served as the Interim Chief of Police and Assistant Chief of Police in the City of Santa Paula.  I excelled in each position ranging from city management to leading a police department.  I earned four academic degrees, including a Master’s Degree in Executive Leadership from the School of Public Policy at USC, a Master’s in Public Administration from Cal State Long Beach, A Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science from UCLA, and an Associate of Science Degree in Administration of Justice from Citrus Community College.
 
I believe “RESPECT” is the cornerstone to delivering quality law enforcement services to the community. I serve Responsibly, Ethically, Sensibly, Professionally, Empathetically, Civilly and Transparently (RESPECT).  My greatest attribute is listening and bringing people together to solve community problems. With your help, as a community, we can fix the problems in Los Angeles County and restore decorum and professionalism back to the Office Sheriff.  Together, I hope to partner with you as architects of a new model of law enforcement which takes us from “Gladiators to Guardians,” a model which can be emulated across the country.  
 
Respectfully, 
 
Matt Rodriguez  
 
 
Paid for by Rodriguez for Los Angeles Sheriff 2022 
*Featured image via Knock-LA

Cece Woods

The Current Report Editor in Chief Cece Woods started The Local Malibu, an activism based platform in 2014. The publication was instrumental in the success of pro-preservation ballot measures and seating five top vote-getters in the Malibu City Council elections.

During the summer of 2018, Woods exposed the two-year law enforcement cover-up in the Malibu Creek State Park Shootings, and a few short months later provided the most comprehensive local news coverage during the Woolsey Fire attracting over 1 million hits across her social media platforms. Woods also founded Malibu based 90265 Magazine and Cali Mag devoted to the authentic southern California lifestyle.

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