Los Angeles-based lawyers Evan Jenness and George Newhouse will work as a team to investigate allegations of corruption at Malibu City Hall, the Malibu City Council decided at its Monday, April 26, meeting.
In December 2020, outgoing Malibu City Council Member Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner shared an affidavit detailing instances of possible corruption he had heard of during his tenure as a city council member. He wrote specifically of one instance in which a construction company attempted to bribe him to award a remodel contract to them with a trip to Las Vegas. The affidavit was prepared with help from now-Malibu Mayor Pro Tem Bruce Silverstein, who had made rooting out corruption a key pillar of his council campaign.
In the following months, Silverstein’s fellow council members selected him and Council Member Karen Farrer to search for an outside legal team to investigate Wagner’s claims. After receiving offers to investigate from five firms and interviewing three, Farrer and Silverstein recommended Jenness and Newhouse for the job. At the Monday meeting, the council voted unanimously, 5-0, to hire the pair, who have “a combined experience of more than 70 years handling criminal, civil, administrative and sundry matters,” according to a letter Jenness wrote to the city.
Jenness and Newhouse will charge the City of Malibu $400 per hour of work. The two estimated they could complete the investigation for around $50,000.