State Sen. Ron Calderon and his brother Assembly Majority Leader Charles Calderon, carry on a family tradition every Thanksgiving.
Join the discussion below, or Read more at LA Weekly.
#387 Nov 30, 2013
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, has tried in vain to distance himself from the FBI’s ongoing investigation into corruption at the State Capitol.
Steinberg’s story doesn’t line up with standard legal practices, and perhaps more damning, may put the top ranking Senate Democrat in an ethics bind: either he knew earlier that Drobot was a client of his law firm, or he was derelict in complying with his duties as a lawyer.
By claiming he first knew of Drobot’s connection in November, Steinberg is acknowledging that he failed to review his law firm’s clients and whether those clients posed any potential conflicts with his role as leader of the state Senate. Alternatively, if Steinberg, in fact, participated in a routine “conflicts check,” it would contradict Steinberg’s timeline of when he first learned that Drobot was represented by his law firm.
Even if Steinberg wasn’t directly using his powerful position to influence legislation, there’s also the potential for abuse by other members of his law firm, who potentially would be able to use their ties to Steinberg on behalf of their clients. On its website, the firm’s pitch to prospective clients references its expertise in “policy and legislation.”
“The FBI was specifically interested in Senator Steinberg’s financial activities with Michael Drobot, the former chief executive officer of Pacific Hospital of Long Beach,” Calderon’s civil action filed in federal court on Nov. 13 states.“High level FBI agents met with Senator Calderon on six occasions and AUSA Miller met with Senator Calderon on two separate occasions to try and convince the Senator to participate in the sting operation targeting the financial dealings between Senator Steinberg and Michael Drobot and other donors to the Senate pro Tem’s political action committees.”
Steinberg has claimed, according to the Los Angeles Times, that he has “no relationship with Michael Drobot.” However, state campaign finance records show that the older Drobot, Michael D., has donated more than $1.3 million in campaign contributions since 2000, including $110,000 in contributions to attend the 2011 and 2012 Pro Tem Cup fundraising golf tournaments.
During the Watergate scandal, Sen. Howard H. Baker Jr., R-Tenn., vice chairman of the Senate Watergate Committee, famously asked of President Nixon,”What did the President know and when did he know it?”
The same could be asked of President Pro Tem Steinberg.
#388 Nov 30, 2013
Allegations of political corruption in Southern California bring into sharp relief the need for the Legislature to clamp down on practices that allow its members to use nonprofit organizations as personal piggy banks.
Allegations of bribe-taking against Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, have focused attention on state legislators and their close ties with certain nonprofits.
The affidavit says the agent agreed to pay $25,000 of the $60,000 to a nonprofit set up by Calderon's brother, former Assemblyman Tom Calderon.
After all, according to the FBI affidavit, Ron Calderon told the agent that he and his brother intended to draw on the nonprofit's funds.
After all, according to the FBI affidavit, Ron Calderon told the agent that he and his brother intended to draw on the nonprofit's funds.
The affidavit also alleges that Ron Calderon allowed Sen. Richard Kara to remain chairman of the Latino Legislative Caucus last year in return for a $25,000 donation from the caucus to his "Californians for Diversity".
#389 Dec 2, 2013
Donors began distancing themselves from Calderon before probe
Corporate benefactors of a political action committee that gave funds to Sen. Ronald Calderon and his brother, a former assemblyman, revamped the organization
SACRAMENTO — Even before the FBI raided state Sen. Ronald S. Calderon's Capitol office as part of a corruption investigation, some of his strongest supporters were already distancing themselves from the Montebello Democrat.
About six months before the June raid, some corporate benefactors had begun revamping a political committee they funded that was generous to him and his brother, former Assemblyman Tom Calderon, a leader of the organization until late 2011.
In addition to aiding Democratic candidates, the group, called Diversity PAC, had paid for travel, expensive dinners and other perks for both siblings.
But last December, business leaders who funded the group elected a new board of directors that changed the committee's mission, according to the new board members.
Six months later, after the FBI inspected Calderon's office, a new Diversity PAC treasurer was appointed to replace the one who had long held that position
in addition to serving as treasurer for the brothers' campaign accounts.(!!!)
Tom Calderon was the group's founding principal officer, in 2005. He called it Latino PAC, and its mission was "to elect Latino candidates," according to filings with the secretary of state. The fund later became Diversity PAC, and its purpose evolved into support for moderate Democrats, those involved said.
Another executive said he stopped giving because "it just seemed to me the money was not being used for much of anything except what Ron Calderon or Tom Calderon wanted it to go to."
Some donors disliked other aspects of the operation
Diversity PAC has paid Tom Calderon, his consulting firm and other groups he formed $34,700 over the years, much of it for travel, lodging, meals and meetings.
The last payment involving him was on July 16 of this year, a $10,000 donation to a nonprofit he formed, Californians for Diversity.
Ronald Calderon has received travel and lodging expenses from Diversity PAC that include $1,562 for lodging at the Park Hyatt hotel in Carlsbad to attend a conference in 2011.
The PAC also gave him $1,039 that year for airfare and lodging for another trip
#392 Dec 8, 2013
State Sen. Kevin de Leon warned of potential probe into donation in a letter Thursday from the state ethics agency saying it may investigate whether he directed a donation to be made to a nonprofit from a political committee affiliated with the Latino Caucus.(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
State law requires the state Fair Political Practices Commission to provide 10 days notice before launching an investigation so the potential target has a chance to provide evidence that no violation has occurred and a probe is not warranted. De Leon denied wrongdoing through a spokesman.
Calderon, a Democrat from Montebello, is facing a federal investigation into allegations that he accepted $88,000 in bribes from an undercover FBI agent posing as a movie executive and the former owner of a Long Beach hospital to act on legislation, according to an FBI affidavit.
The affidavit also alleges that De Leon arranged a $25,000 contribution from “Yes We Can,” a political committee affiliated with the California Legislative Latino Caucus, to a nonprofit group run by former Assemblyman Tom Calderon, the brother of Ronald S. Calderon. The Calderons allegedly planned to gain income from the nonprofit, Californians for Diversity, according to the affidavit.
The affidavit alleges De Leon arranged the donation "in exchange for Ronald Calderon agreeing not to challenge Senator [Ricardo] Lara to become the Chairman of the Latino Caucus."
On Thursday, FPPC Enforcement Chief Gary Winuk wrote a letter to De Leon saying his agency “may initiate an investigation into a donation you may have directed.”
The investigation, Winuk said, would look at whether the donation should have been reported as a gift solicited by De Leon “or if directing the donation could indicate you control the committee thus violating the Political Reform Act’s prohibition against a candidate controlling a committee not associated with an election.”
#393 Dec 11, 2013
Former Central Basin general manager says two directors tied engineering contract to campaign donations
COMMERCE >> The former general manager of a local water district has accused two of its board members of trying to deny a contract to an engineering company because it didn’t give them enough money in campaign contributions.
Art Aguilar, who retired in Oct. 31 as general manager for Central Basin Municipal Water District, made the allegations against directors Art Chacon and Phil Hawkins in a deposition he made as part of billing-dispute lawsuits between the district and Pasadena-based Pacifica Services.
“The problem during the election was they didn’t believe that Pacifica gave — their use of the word —“the boys enough money,” stated Aguilar, referring to Chacon and Hawkins.
Pacifica gave only a “lousy 10 grand or something along that line,” Chacon told Aguilar, he stated.“He expected more.”
In the 196-page deposition, Aguilar also stated that Chacon and Hawkins wanted him to hire Industry-based Del Terra Construction Group, instead of Pacifica, for engineering services.
Aguilar stated that Chacon and Hawkins told him vendors must come through with contributions during an election period.
Aguilar also stated that Chacon and Hawkins wanted more in campaign contributions from Pacifica.
“He always expected contributions from (Pacifica President) Ernie (Camacho) and Pacifica for elections — for district elections, for any elections that either his brothers were involved in or his family was managing, even for money for him when he needed money that he could run in through his election services company,” said
And Hawkins also wanted a job offered to former Assemblyman Tony Mendoza to keep him from running against him, Aguilar stated. Mendoza, who was never hired, ran and lost in the June 2012 election
Aguilar also stated that Hawkins tried to get Aguilar to offer Mendoza a job so that he wouldn’t run for director.“(Hawkins) told me that Tony Mendoza was going to call me to discuss possibilities and opportunities and for me to talk to him and see what I could do about it,” Aguilar stated.
Aguilar stated that he refused to hire Mendoza. He did talk to Mendoza on the day of the deadline to file for office but refused to meet with him.
#394 Dec 11, 2013
All the democrats have ruined this state. They spend more time creating laws to benefit illegal aliens than representing our citizens . Or they do something stupid like transgender k-12 law. If I had my way I would hang half and tar n feather the rest.
#395 Dec 13, 2013
Realtors give $500k to California Dems and short-sale dispute ends
The California Association of Realtors’ political action committee gave $500,000 to the state Democratic Party the day before the Democrat-dominated Franchise Tax Board effectively resolved a months-long legislative fight over the state’s tax treatment of short sales.
Tuesday’s donation, reported Wednesday evening, matches the $500,000 the Realtors gave state Democrats in May.
The group also gave the party $168,000 earlier in the year and more than $1 million in 2012. The 2013 contributions, by far the largest to the party in the current election cycle, will help Democratic attempts to keep their two-thirds legislative supermajorities in 2014.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, at the time accused the Realtors of “scorched-earth” tactics.
Steinberg’s office declined to comment on this week’s actions. State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, the author of the transaction fee bill, said he would continue to push the measure next year. State Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, the author of the now-moot bill to extend the tax break, praised the tax board for providing “relief and protection for struggling homeowners.”
Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/12/05/5975414/real...
#396 Dec 16, 2013
Sen. Kevin De Leon denies role in contribution to Calderon group
The state Fair Political Practices Commission had given De Leon 10 days to respond to allegations that he'd arranged a $25,000 contribution from “Yes We Can,” a political committee affiliated with the California Legislative Latino Caucus, to a nonprofit group run by former Assemblyman Tom Calderon, the brother of Ronald S. Calderon.
An FBI affidavit that is part of an investigation into Sen. Calderon alleged the $25,000 was contributed in exchange for Sen. Calderon dropping his challenge to Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) for the chairmanship of the caucus.
#397 Dec 18, 2013
Central Basin Municipal Water District officials propose plan to reduce legal costs
Director Art Chacon said the plan isn’t necessarily a way to stop the costs.
“We can’t blame it on the attorneys or fees,” Chacon said.“The bottom line is we’ve got to stop it ourselves. We need to stop all this stuff.”
reduce costs and rake-off's?
Not as long as the Calderons, Cedillo, Ed Vasquez, and Chacon's are involved
#399 Dec 23, 2013
The water district transferred $2.7 million into a secret trust fund set up to create an EIR for a water project. One board member called it a "slush fund."
The FBI is investigating what happened to $2.7 million placed in a trust fund by the Central Basin Municipal Water District, money that also has been the subject of questions from one of the district’s board members and been described by another as a slush fund.
Related Material: Central Basin and other documents obtained by KPCC
RELATED: Timeline: The FBI's investigation of Ron Calderon
The money flow between water district and Tom Calderon | JULY 25TH, 2013
#400 Dec 24, 2013
Ron Calderon, Chris Hansen head annual naughty list
Read more here: http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/20...
Occupants of the naughty list included Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, the subject of an FBI corruption probe that has riveted Sacramento;
#401 Dec 26, 2013
Common Cause seeks new limits on gifts to California officials
“At a time when federal investigators are looking for potential illegal actions by California legislators, this report shows that many legal activities raise suspicions about the influence of special interest in the state Capitol,” said Kathay Feng, executive director for California Common Cause.
--Adopt new conflict of interest rules prohibiting elected officials from soliciting contributions to charities controlled by a member of the official’s family.
“When gifts are exchanged, a feeling of gratitude is natural, but voters should be concerned how policymakers show their gratitude towards powerful interest groups,” said Phillip Ung, author of the report and a policy advocate for California Common Cause.
#402 Dec 26, 2013
Common Cause: Ron Calderon received third highest gift total in 2012
MONTEBELLO >> Among California’s elected officials, state Sen. Ron Calderon received the third highest amount of gifts last year, according to a report by California Common Cause.
Most of the presents came from special-interest groups, according to Phillip Ung’s newly released report from California Common Cause titled “Gifts, Influence & Power: A Report on Gifts Given to California’s Elected Officials.”
Calderon, a Democrat from Montebello, received $7,830.44 in REPORTED gifts in 2012.
Those gifts included thousands for lodgings at conferences run by lobbyists and tickets to the National Pro-Am Golf Tournament.
Only Sen. Mimi Walters and Assembly Speaker John Perez received more than Calderon.
Walters’ gifts were valued at $15,810. Perez’s were valued at $8,020.
The report found Calderon took more than $3,000 in gifts from insurance companies while serving as chair of the Senate Insurance Committee, a position he no longer holds after the details of an FBI investigation leaked.
I wonder if the above includes "contributions" to Ron's legal defense fund, his non profits, or his "future elective office" funds
or his brothers various funds
#403 Dec 27, 2013
Lawsuit threatens teachers unions’ power
December 20th, 2013 By Dave Roberts.
“Money is the mother’s milk of politics”
-- Former Assembly Speaker Jesse ‘Big Daddy’ Unruh
The California Teachers Association has poured more than $150 million into state politics in the past decade – most of it going to Democratic candidates and liberal ballot measures.
That kind of spending makes the 325,000-member CTA one of the greatest political forces...
Forced to ‘opt out’
Currently, their only recourse is to opt out every year by applying for a rebate of the portion of their dues used for political purposes.
The portion’s percentage is determined by the union.
That has led to an over-reach into the wallets of those nonmembers who do not want to contribute to political spending,
according to the Supreme Court in a similar case last year, Knox vs. Serv. Emps. Int’l Union, Local 1000.
CTA’s large donation days could be over if the Friedrichs lawsuit is successful, forcing the CTA (and other public employee unions) to stop automatically deducting paychecks for political purposes.
Afoul of the First Amendment
The court majority in Knox also criticized the SEIU’s treatment of those wanting to opt out, saying it “ran afoul of the First Amendment.”
#404 Dec 27, 2013
Ex-employee accuses lobbying firm of directing illegal contributions
Former worker's lawsuit says Sloat Higgins Jensen and Associates fired her because she protested that the company was breaking the law.
Legislative lobbyists are barred by California law from donating to lawmakers or candidates for the Legislature, and from directing such contributions. The state also prohibits lobbyists from making, arranging or delivering gifts worth more than $10 to an elected state official in a single month.
Sloat's business partner, Kelly Jensen, worked in the 1990s as chief of staff for Charles Calderon, who was then state Senate majority leader. Calderon is a brother of current state Sen. Ronald S. Calderon (D-Montebello), who is under investigation by federal authorities alleging that he engaged in influence peddling and bribery.
That investigation has spotlighted Ronald Calderon's legislative lifestyle, including travel, dinners, cigars and liquor paid for by lobbyists and their clients.
The company's client roster includes Indian casino operators, city governments, water agencies and beer makers and other large corporations
#405 Jan 5, 2014
#406 Jan 5, 2014
A political action committee with ties to the Legislature’s Latino Caucus announced it was closing down Tuesday, a day after the state Fair Political Practices Commission said it is investigating one of the group’s contributions.
On Tuesday, however, the Latino Caucus began working to distance itself from the Yes We Can PAC. In emails between The Sacramento Bee and Valencia that date back to October, Valencia did not dispute that the Latino Caucus and Yes We Can were affiliated.
The affidavit describes a secretly recorded conversation between Calderon and an undercover agent in which the senator says that he and his brother planned to draw income from the Californians for Diversity nonprofit.
“Tom and I down the road, we build that up, we can pay ourselves,” Calderon said, according to the affidavit.“Just kind of make, you know, part of living.”
Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2013/12/31/3692676/g...
#407 Jan 5, 2014
Capitol Alert: California Senate ethics committee hires outside counsel for Calderon inquiry
The California Senate's ethics committees has hired a former federal prosecutor as a $600-an-hour independent counsel to assist the panel's inquiry into corruption allegations involving state Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello.
The committee's chairman, state Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, announced Thursday that he has retained Charles J. Stevens, a litigation partner in Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher's San Francisco office. Stevens was involved with prosecuting political corruption cases as a U.S. Attorney and assistant U.S. attorney,
"I have retained an independent counsel with expertise in federal political corruption investigations to review the facts and make recommendations to the Senate Legislative Ethics Committee on the appropriate course of action moving forward," Roth, an attorney, said in a statement. He called Stevens' appointment "an important first step to restoring the public's trust."
The committee's inquiry comes several weeks after Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg ordered the panel to look into allegations in an FBI affidavit published Oct. 30 by Al Jazeera America.
The affidavit alleges $88,000 in bribes to Calderon, D-Montebello
Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2014/01/02/3694830/c...
#408 Jan 6, 2014
AM Alert: New political spending legislation emerges in wake of Calderon scandal
The Legislature was in recess when revelations from the FBI's corruption investigation of state Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, hit in late October.
With the new legislative year beginning Monday, lawmakers may be ready to deal with the fallout.
State Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, announced yesterday that he plans to introduce a bill prohibiting certain types of political spending, including contributions of campaign funds by elected officials to business entities and non-profits owned or operated by members of their same elected body or their family.
Among the eye-catching items in the FBI's Calderon affidavit:
Last January, a political fundraising committee associated with the Latino Legislative Caucus made a $25,000 donation to a group run by Calderon's brother.
At the time, Calderon had just finished serving two years as the Latino Caucus' vice chairman.
Hill's legislation would amend the Political Reform Act, which governs disclosure of political money, and would require a 2/3's vote to pass.
Read more here: http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/20...
#409 Jan 6, 2014
SACRAMENTO -- Two months after state Sen. Ronald S. Calderon was stripped of all his committee assignments in the midst of an FBI probe, the Senate's leader recommended Monday that they be divvied up to other lawmakers for the coming year.
Calderon was removed from the committees after an FBI affidavit indicated he was under investigation for allegedly accepting $88,000 in bribes to act on legislation affecting film tax credits and workers’ compensation payments. Nobody has been charged with any crime in the case.
Meanwhile, Senate members normally sit in pairs at desks in the chambers, but a new seating chart has Calderon sitting alone, with the desk next to him unoccupied to reflect the recent resignation of state Sen. Bill Emmerson (R-Redlands).
Dunce cap optional
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