Mark Ridley-Thomas

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Mark Ridley-Thomas
Mark Ridley-Thomas, 2013.jpeg
Ridley-Tomas in 2013
Member of the Los Angeles City Council
In office
December 14, 2020 – March 17, 2022
(in suspension Oct 20, 2021 - Mar 17, 2022)
Preceded byHerb Wesson
Succeeded byHerb Wesson
Constituency10th district
In office
July 1, 1991 – December 1, 2002
Preceded byRobert C. Farrell
Succeeded byBernard Parks
Constituency8th district
President Pro Tempore of the
Los Angeles City Council
In office
April 17, 2001 – June 30, 2003
Preceded byRuth Galanter
Succeeded byCindy Miscikowski
Member of the
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
from the 2nd District
In office
December 1, 2008 – December 6, 2020
Preceded byYvonne Brathwaite Burke
Succeeded byHolly Mitchell
Chair of Los Angeles County
In office
December 6, 2016 – December 5, 2017
Preceded byHilda Solis
Succeeded bySheila Kuehl
In office
December 4, 2012 – December 3, 2013
Preceded byMichael D. Antonovich (Mayor)
Succeeded byDon Knabe
Los Angeles County Chair Pro Tem
In office
December 8, 2015 – December 6, 2016
Preceded byHilda Solis
Succeeded bySheila Kuehl
In office
December 6, 2011 – December 4, 2012
Preceded byZev Yaroslavsky
Succeeded byDon Knabe
Member of the California State Senate
from the 26th district
In office
December 4, 2006 – November 30, 2008
Preceded byKevin Murray
Succeeded byCurren D. Price Jr.
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 48th district
In office
December 2, 2002 – November 30, 2006
Preceded byRoderick Wright
Succeeded byMike Davis
Personal details
Mark Thomas

(1954-11-06) November 6, 1954 (age 68)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseAvis Ridley-Thomas
ChildrenSebastian and Sinclair Ridley-Thomas
Residence(s)Los Angeles County, California
Alma materImmaculate Heart College
University of Southern California

Mark Ridley-Thomas is an American politician. He previously served three terms on the Los Angeles City Council from the 8th district from 1991 to 2002, and again for the 10th district from 2020 until his expulsion from the council in 2022. Ridley-Thomas was indicted on federal corruption charges on October 13, 2021.[1]

Ridley-Thomas previously served as a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for the 2nd Supervisorial District from 2008 to 2020, a California State Senator representing the 26th district from 2006 to 2008, and was a California State Assemblyman representing the 48th district from 2002 until 2006. He was Chairman of the Assembly Democratic Caucus.

Personal life and education[edit]

Ridley-Thomas is a graduate of Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles and earned a baccalaureate degree in Social Relations and a master's degree in Religious Studies from Immaculate Heart College. Ridley-Thomas went on to earn a Ph.D. in Social Ethics and Policy Analysis from the University of Southern California (1989).[2]

After a brief stint as a high-school teacher, Ridley-Thomas served for a decade as executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles (1981–1991). During that period he also hosted a public affairs program on Pacifica Radio station KPFK-FM in Los Angeles.


California State Assembly (2002–2006)[edit]

Ridley-Thomas would have been forced to leave the council in 2003 because of city term limits that prevented him from running for reelection, so he chose instead to run for a seat in the California State Assembly representing California's 48th district.[3] In his 2002 election, he defeated his Republican opponent, Gerard T. Robinson, with more than 80% of the vote.[4] In the Assembly, Ridley-Thomas served as chair of the Democratic caucus and was a major proponent of efforts to encourage an NFL team to move to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which is located in his district.[5] He also sponsored a law that aided redevelopment in Exposition Park as part of a failed effort to attract a team. In the Assembly, Ridley-Thomas, as chairman of the Select Committee on the Los Angeles County Health Care Crisis, was a leader in addressing the problems facing the hospitals and health care system of Los Angeles, sponsoring a bill that would create the Office of Inspector General in an effort to detect and prevent fraud, waste and abuse in government agencies.[6]

California State Senate (2006–2008)[edit]

In 2006, Ridley-Thomas announced that he was running for the California State Senate, vying for the 26th Senate district seat being vacated by term-limited Senator Kevin Murray. He defeated his opponent in the Democratic primary, Marvin C. McCoy, with more than 87% of the vote[7] and faced no Republican opposition in the general election. In the Senate, Ridley-Thomas joined with a group of lawmakers who introduced a package of legislation designed to crack down on gang violence by allowing city and county prosecutors to employ tougher sentencing measures and increase asset forfeitures against gang members, authoring a bill which would make it easier for law enforcement officials to deal with racially motivated gang activity.[8] He was also one of the lawmakers who called for tourists to boycott the LAX Hilton because of its efforts to overturn a city ordinance that would grant a living wage to airport-area hotel workers.[9] Ridley-Thomas chaired the Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development and its two subcommittees on Professional Sports and Entertainment, and The Economy, Workforce Preparation and Development. He also served on the Senate Appropriations; Energy, Utilities and Communications; Health; and Public Safety committees.

Los Angeles County Supervisor (2008–2020)[edit]

Ridley-Thomas with three of his Supervisor colleagues and Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2015.

On October 25, 2007, Ridley-Thomas announced that he would be running for the Second District seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors being vacated by Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke. His most formidable opponent was former LAPD police chief Bernard C. Parks, the member of the Los Angeles City Council who replaced Ridley-Thomas when he was elected to the State Assembly.[10] Ridley-Thomas was endorsed by the Los Angeles County Democratic Party,[11] the area's labor unions (including the law enforcement unions), and numerous elected officials.[12] Ridley-Thomas edged out Parks in the June 3 primary by a margin of 45% to 40%, but since neither candidate received a majority of the vote, the top two candidates advanced to a runoff election in November. Ridley-Thomas won a 62% to 38% victory over Parks. Ridley-Thomas became the first black man ever elected to the Los Angeles County Board.[13]

In 2012 Ridley-Thomas served a second term as Supervisor, due to no opposing candidate in the primary in the June primary.[14]

Term limits was placed on the ballot for 2 terms by a voter initiative, but the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors placed a competing proposal on the ballot for 3 term, side-by-side, which received more votes. Therefore, in March 2015, Ridley-Thomas sought and won his third and last term without any serious opposition.[15]

Los Angeles City Council (1991–2002; 2020–2022)[edit]

Ridley-Thomas with Senator Feinstein, Supervisor Burke, and Mayor Riordan in 1984.

Ridley-Thomas served the first of three terms on the Los Angeles City Council, beginning in 1991, representing the city's 8th Council District. During his tenure on the council, he created the Eighth District Empowerment Congress. He founded the African American Voter Registration, Education, and Participation (AAVREP) in 2002, the largest organized effort to register African American and urban voters in the state of California in more than a decade.[16] He was also the president pro tem of the council.[17]

Thomas was elected to a fourth 4-year term on the Los Angeles City Council in Council District 10 in the November 3, 2020 election.[18] On October 18, 2021 Ridley-Thomas announced his intention to step back from his duties in order to fight charges of corruption; two days later, the Los Angeles city council formally voted to suspend him from his duties.[19][20] Four months later, he was expelled from the council and replaced by Herb Wesson, who was appointed by City Council President Nury Martinez in 2022.[21][22]

Mark Ridley Thomas Bridge, aka Park to Playa Trail Bridge, Baldwin Hills, Los Angeles County, California


Korean store alcohol ban[edit]

In the aftermath of the 1992 L.A. riots, Ridley-Thomas sought to prevent convenience stores in South Central from selling alcohol. Many of these stores were Korean owned. He said at the time "We are going to use every means at our disposal to rid our community of these god-awful places of business, the kind of business they do is not good for the community." Korean owners took issue with his stance, claiming this was a case of the city punishing the victims.[23]

$707,000 proposed office remodeling[edit]

In 2009 Ridley-Thomas was criticized, most notably by radio talk show hosts John and Ken, for his proposal and personal defense of plans to remodel his office through the spending of $707,000 in discretionary funds. Amidst the state budget crisis in California, John and Ken criticized MRT on December 21, 2009, saying that the discretionary funds, "[are] our money and we say no."[24][25] As of March 12, 2010 the Los Angeles Times reported that Ridley-Thomas' renovation plans for his eighth-floor office were on hold.[26]

$25,000 "Who's Who" listing[edit]

In 2010 Ridley-Thomas spent $25,000 in public funds to place himself and fourteen other county officials in the Who's Who edition of black Los Angeles.[27]

$25,000 LACMA pay to play[edit]

In 2014, while county supervisor, Ridley-Thomas provided a key vote in favor of $125 million in public financing for a controversial[28] redesign of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). This came after a meeting with Michael Lynton, then-CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment and a LACMA trustee, who agreed to have Sony donate $25,000 to AAVREP, the political action committee founded by Ridley-Thomas. Sony's donation was three times larger than for any other California candidate or committee that year, and was understood to be in support of the school board campaign of a Ridley-Thomas protégé. While the funds were solicited and agreed to before the board election, the donation was made one month after the election so that it would not be publicly known during the campaign.[29]

Excessive car washing[edit]

During the 2015 California drought Ridley-Thomas ordered one of his two county-provided black luxury cars (Chrysler 300 limited) to be washed 2 times a week. After Governor Jerry Brown's April mandate ordered a 25% reduction in urban water use, Ridley-Thomas increased the frequency of his sedan washing to over 3 times a week, while maintaining a wash schedule of 2.9 times per week for the second Chrysler sedan he maintains, more than any other county supervisor.[30]

$100,000 USC bribery[edit]

In Spring 2018, Ridley-Thomas' political campaign fund—Mark Ridley-Thomas Committee for a Better L.A.—gave $100,000 to the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. After the school received the money, the school's dean, Marilyn L. Flynn, reached out to Peter Manzo, CEO of United Ways of California advising that the school was sending a $100,000 donation to be put in the account of the Policy Research & Practice Initiative (PRPI), a think tank run by Ridley-Thomas' son and former assembly member Sebastian Ridley-Thomas. The LA Times reported that a concerned employee went to the university's compliance office in June, 2018 and reported alleged inappropriate financial transactions and agreements involving dean Flynn and an elected official. After consulting legal counsel, school administrators subsequently referred the incident to federal authorities for a criminal investigation.[31]

Fossil fuel pay to play[edit]

During his 2020 race for Los Angeles City Council, environmental activists criticized Ridley-Thomas for his acceptance of donations from the fossil fuel industry.[32] Of the major candidates in the race, Ridley-Thomas was the only one who accepted such donations. These donations included at least one from E&B Natural Resources Management, which operates a drill site in the district.[32] While the other four candidates in the race called for the city to phase out urban oil drilling within 2,500 feet of homes and schools, Ridley-Thomas has opposed the idea of a citywide buffer.[32]

Federal corruption indictment[edit]

On October 13, 2021, the United States Attorney for the Central District of California announced that a federal grand jury had indicted Ridley-Thomas and Flynn for "a bribery scheme in which Sebastian Ridley-Thomas received substantial benefits from the [University of Southern California] in exchange for Ridley-Thomas supporting county contracts and lucrative contract amendments with the university..."[33][1][34]


  1. ^ a b Finnegan, Michael (October 13, 2021). "L.A. Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas and ex-USC dean indicted on bribery charges". Los Angeles Times.
  2. ^ Official Biography "Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas -- Biography". Archived from the original on 2007-11-11. Retrieved 2008-09-27.
  3. ^ Garza, Mariel. "MEMBER SAYS ADIEU TO COUNCIL." The Daily News of Los Angeles. November 27, 2002.
  4. ^ "Assembly Races." City News Service. November 6, 2002.
  5. ^ Witz, Billy. "BILL COULD HELP COLISEUM'S BID." The Daily News of Los Angeles. September 30, 2004.
  6. ^ "Health Audits." City News Service. May 5, 2005.
  7. ^ City News Service. June 7, 2006.
  8. ^ City News Service. March 15, 2007.
  9. ^ Marroquin, Art. "Lawmakers Call for Tourists to Boycott LAX Hilton in Dispute Over Living Wage." City News Service. April 13, 2007.
  10. ^ :"Ridley-Thomas Announces Run For County Supervisor Seat." City News Service. October 25, 2007.
  11. ^ Renaud, Jean-Paul. "California in Brief | LOS ANGELES; Party endorses Ridley-Thomas." Los Angeles Times. April 10, 2008.
  12. ^ Endorsements. "Senator Mark Ridley Thomas for Supervisor". Archived from the original on 2009-01-06. Retrieved 2008-07-28.
  13. ^ Perkins, Robert. "Ridley-Thomas, Parks Heading for Runoff in 2nd District Supervisor Race." City News Service. June 4, 2008.
  14. ^ LA County Board of Supervisors Election Results
  15. ^ Merl, Jean. "Veteran L.A. politicians take formal step toward 2016 supervisor race" Los Angeles Times. March 10, 2015.
  16. ^ AAVREP website,
  17. ^ Stockstill, Mason. "Council Says Goodbye, Good Luck to Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas." City News Service. November 26, 2002.
  18. ^ Chou, Elizabeth (2020-11-03). "Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas headed for return to LA City Council". LA Daily News.
  19. ^ Wick, Julia; Zahnister, David; Smith, Dakota (October 18, 2021). "Mark Ridley-Thomas will 'step back' from council duties, but not resign". Los Angeles Times.
  20. ^ Smith, Dakota; Wick, Julia; Oreskes, Benjamin (October 20, 2021). "L.A. City Council votes to suspend Mark Ridley-Thomas amid federal charges". Los Angeles Times.
  21. ^ "Herb Wesson appointed to LA City Council's 10th district". KTTV. February 16, 2022.
  22. ^ "Former Councilman Herb Wesson To Temporarily Represent District 10". KCAL-TV. February 16, 2022.
  23. ^ "4 Liquor Stores Destroyed in Riots Get OK to Rebuild". Los Angeles Times.
  24. ^ "Mark Ridley Thomas Office Renovation On The Agenda"
  25. ^ "Ridley-Thomas defends $707K office renovations". ABC7 Los Angeles.
  26. ^ "L.A. County supervisors spend millions on pet projects". Los Angeles Times.
  27. ^ "Who's Who with whose funds?". Los Angeles Times.
  28. ^ Giovannini, Joseph (19 April 2019). "People Opposed to the New LACMA Plan Never Stood a Chance". Los Angeles Magazine. Retrieved 2021-06-28.
  29. ^ Faturechi, Robert. "Hacked Sony Emails Reveal Behind-the-Scenes Political Dealings in L.A." ProPublica. Retrieved 2021-06-28.
  30. ^ "What drought? Some L.A. County supervisors have their cars washed 2, 3 times a week". 25 August 2015.
  31. ^ Ryan, Matt Hamilton, Harriet (2 August 2018). "Donation from prominent L.A. politician roils USC, which referred case to federal prosecutors". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2019-01-08.
  32. ^ a b c Reyes, Emily Alpert; Zahniser, David. "Fossil fuel money is toxic for some L.A. council candidates". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 9 April 2022.
  33. ^ "Mark Ridley-Thomas Charged Along with Former University Dean in Federal Grand Jury Indictment Alleging Bribery and Fraud Scheme". United States Department of Justice. October 13, 2021.
  34. ^ "Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas Indicted On Federal Charges Alleging Corruption". CBS Los Angeles (KCBS-TV/KCAL-TV). October 13, 2021.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Los Angeles City Council
8th District
July 1, 1991 – December 1, 2002
Succeeded by
Preceded by President Pro Tempore of the
Los Angeles City Council

April 17, 2001 – June 30, 2003
Succeeded by
Preceded by Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
2nd District

December 1, 2008 – December 6, 2020
Succeeded by
Preceded by Los Angeles County Chair
December 6, 2016 – December 5, 2017
December 4, 2012 – December 3, 2013
Succeeded by
Preceded by Succeeded by
Preceded by Los Angeles County Chair Pro Tem
December 8, 2015 – December 6, 2016
December 6, 2011 – December 4, 2012
Succeeded by
Preceded by Succeeded by
California Senate
Preceded by California State Senate
26th district

December 4, 2006 – November 30, 2008
Succeeded by
California Assembly
Preceded by California State Assembly
48th District

December 2, 2002 – November 30, 2006
Succeeded by