Gov. Gavin Newson has signed new legislation last week to allow officials throughout California to void any contracts established as a result of bribery.
Senate Bill 34, signed into law Sept. 13, was inspired by the aborted Angel Stadium sale in the City of Anaheim, according to its author state Sen. Thomas Umberg (D-Santa Ana).
“It is painful to watch the trust of the public be so egregiously eroded,” he said in a Sept. 19 statement. “SB 34 is a big step towards helping to restore the trust of the residents of Anaheim and Orange County.”
Taking effect Jan. 1, 2024, it will apply to contracts executed on or after January 1, 2023, including those negotiated before that date, according to the bill text.
Umberg said he filed the measure to address future scandals similar to the $320 million stadium sale. Anaheim officials voided the sale agreement between the city and Angels’ baseball team owner Arte Moreno following allegations of corruption.
Former Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu resigned in May after allegedly leaking secret information to Moreno during negotiations of the stadium sale in hopes of later receiving a political campaign contribution, according to an FBI affidavit. Sidhu has not been charged or indicted.
An Orange County grand jury report about the sale suggested sale negotiations by Anaheim officials were rushed, lacked transparency, and betrayed constituents.
More investigations could reveal additional information about the case, Umberg said.
“With federal and state investigations just now underway, I am sure we are just beginning to scratch the surface with information here,” he said in the statement. “In the meantime, however, this bill ensures that the residents of Anaheim will not be left holding the bag on a billion-dollar deal negotiated behind closed doors.”
Meanwhile, Moreno announced in August he was exploring the sale of the baseball team that he has had for nearly two decades.