Calif. Senate Yanks Calderon's Committee Assignments

CPR photo/Ben Adler
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The California lawmaker accused in an FBI affidavit of taking $88,000 in bribes has been stripped of his committee assignments.

The state Senate’s Rules Committee voted 4-0 Tuesday to remove Ron Calderon (D-Montebello) as chairman of the Insurance Committee – and three other panels he sits on.

Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg says the removals are “without prejudice” – and could be reversed depending on the FBI’s investigation.

“There’s a difference between a criminal process – and the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt in that proceeding – and the standard of conduct of the California Senate by a senator,” Steinberg said during the Rules Committee hearing Tuesday at the state Capitol. 

In a statement, Calderon said he’s “profoundly disappointed” by the Rules Committee.  He criticized it and some media outlets for treating him as if he’s been charged or convicted.

Calderon also, for the first time, called the allegations against him “false.”

Meanwhile, a Sacramento criminal defense attorney retained by the Office of the Legislative Counsel says the U.S. Justice Department attorney leading the FBI investigation has asked the Senate to delay its own investigation of Calderon.  “Any evidence gathering or witness interviewing, or anything along those lines – in his opinion – could potentially hinder the investigation at this stage,” attorney Bill Portanova told the Rules Committee Tuesday.

The Senate last expelled a member in 1905, when four senators were kicked out of office.  The Assembly has never expelled a lawmaker.  Its only two expulsion efforts failed.  A motion in 1986 was ruled out of order, and a vote in 1899 failed 62-10.

The FBI affidavit was obtained and posted online by Al Jazeera America.  It accuses Calderon of accepting $88,000 in bribes - $60,000 of which came from an FBI agent posing as the owner of a movie studio.  In exchange, it alleges the senator tried to pass a film tax credit at the agent’s request.

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