EXCLUSIVE: First-hand account of Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao’s donor who paid to help his 2022 campaign against Loren Taylor

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) — Sheng Thao won the November 2022 Oakland mayoral race by just 677 votes. In light of the FBI raid on his home last week, the ABC7 News I-Team has learned that the man who placed second, Loren Taylor, is preparing his campaign team to run for office again.

We contacted Loren Taylor to ask about a controversial flyer sent to Oakland voters in the days leading up to the vote and learned that the flyer had ties to Mayor Sheng Thao and Andy Duong, whose home was also raided by federal agents.

As Oakland’s mayoral election approached, former council member Loren Taylor was feeling strong. He had performed well in the polls and had the support of the mayors of Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose at the time. Then he went for a ride on the ranked-choice voting roller coaster. At one point he had won by 3,587 votes, but after ten rounds he ended up losing by just 677 out of around 125,000 votes cast.

MORE: Oakland mayoral candidate Loren Taylor concedes to Sheng Thao, criticizes ranked-choice voting

Oakland mayoral candidate Loren Taylor addressed supporters Tuesday, conceding to Sheng Thao a day after declaring herself the winner.

Taylor told us: “When you have a margin of 677 votes in an election, every little contribution, change, etc. is important. can have a huge impact on the outcome. »

Taylor believes that a series of negative leaflets – 168,000 of them sent to homes days before the vote – cost him the election. “I have darker skin, red eyes like caricatures, like in the Willie Horton commercials, it’s going to have an effect.”

RELATED: Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao sheds tears in fiery speech in response to FBI raid and recall efforts

The public heard from Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao for the first time Monday since his home was raided by the FBI last week.

Taylor discusses a television ad that had a major impact on the 1988 presidential campaign, George H. W. Bush’s run against Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis.

Bush’s TV ad said: “He allowed first-degree murderers to get weekend jail passes.” One of them was Willie Horton who murdered a boy during a robbery by stabbing him 19 times.

RELATED: FBI searches Oakland mayor’s home and several other locations in political corruption investigation: source

Real estate agent and political activist Mario Juarez has publicly said he paid for the anti-Loren Taylor flyers and website.

But, Mayor Sheng Thao’s former chief of staff told me, she saw Juarez approach Thao and Andy Duong at a campaign event in October 2022, asking them for more money for flyers.

“And that was the first time I saw Mario, and I was like, what is he doing here?” » Renia Webb told the I-Team. “And he flat out said he needed $25,000 to finish this mail and I left… because I knew they shouldn’t even be dealing with that or talking about that kind of stuff. “

Webb tells us that Andy Duong, whose family owns California Waste Solutions, has indicated he will take care of it and has already paid $50,000 for the project.

MORE: Former Oakland mayor’s chief of staff details what she shared with FBI during 2023 meeting

Mayor Thao’s former chief of staff described an office filled with confusion and chaos — much of it centered around the mayor’s partner, Andre Jones, and it ultimately led her to resign.

DAN NOYES: “This violates spending limits, doesn’t it?”

LOREN TAYLOR: “Transparency laws, spending limits and more.”

MORE: Report Alleges ‘Campaign Contribution Laundering Scheme’ Involving Oakland Mayor, City Officials

The report details the Andy Duong family’s political ties and who they donated to, including Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao, whose home was raided by the FBI.

Since 2019, Andy Duong has been under investigation by the Oakland Public Ethics Commission, accused of using straw donors to funnel contributions to Sheng Thao and other politicians. Duong’s home was raided by the FBI on the same day as Mayor Thao’s. Still no official details on this investigation.

“Frankly, there are a lot of irregularities in government and in politics,” Loren Taylor said. “But it’s also disheartening to know that there’s everything that’s been built to keep my fans, to keep Oakland from having better leadership.”

Mario Juarez also faces a criminal charge for rejecting three checks intended to pay for the postage of the flyers. His lawyer told me: “Maybe mismanagement of funds on the part of his accountants but no fraud. » He added: “I have no information that I can provide you about his relationship with the Duong family… But when the time is right, the truth about the ongoing accusations and the bad political situation in Oakland will be revealed.”

Samari Johnson, who runs Butterfly Direct Marketing and printed all those flyers, told us, “As far as business goes, I’d say we did a good job.” He says he didn’t pay attention to their message, and the $60,000 he lost to those bounced checks was a major blow to his business. “We want our money back and we’re not going to stop until we do. At some point, the truth has to come out and we’re going to keep fighting until it comes out. At some point, we’re going to find out who the liars are.”

We contacted Andy Duong’s office for comment and sent the flyers when asked, but have not heard back. As for the FBI investigation, it seems we should all settle in for the long haul. A source at the Justice Department told me he “has no reason to believe there will be any comments in the near future on last week’s activities.”

EXCLUSIVE: First-hand account of Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao’s donor who paid to help his 2022 campaign against Loren Taylor

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