Worst Legislator in California, Part II: Charles Calderon Lets...

Jun 1, 2011 Full story: LA Weekly 488

State Sen. Ron Calderon and his brother Assembly Majority Leader Charles Calderon, carry on a family tradition every Thanksgiving.

Full Story
Trash Talk

Los Angeles, CA

#365 Nov 20, 2013
http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-cap-briber...
CAPITOL JOURNAL

Political money needs a tighter rein
continued from above

Campaign money actually gets a bad rap,
to one degree.
It costs a fair amount to run a competitive race.

If the public is unwilling to finance the campaigns of state politicians — and public financing has become impractical anyway, because of U.S. Supreme Court rulings — then the political funds must come from some other source.

A very wealthy candidate might be willing to finance his own campaign, but normally the funding is supplied by favor-seeking special interests.

One problem, however, is that money in a campaign account doesn't have to be spent on running for office.
It also can be spent on goodies — such as four-star dinners and boondoggle trips — as long as it "reasonably" relates to a legislative or governmental purpose.
For example: educating oneself on high-speed rail in Japan or the wine industry in France.

So campaign contributions can significantly enhance a politician's lifestyle.

And a campaign fund is only one of several pots that special interests can fill to ingratiate themselves to officeholders.

There are "officeholder" accounts, which are especially important to incumbents who are not seeking reelection and are therefore barred from raising campaign money.
Unless, as many do, they create a phony account ostensibly to run for another office.

They can dip into those officeholder pots for so-called legislative and governmental purposes — taking the staff to Morton's for a dinner meeting, for instance, on the special interests' dime.

Business execs dine lavishly, of course, but the company pays.

I'd require all legislative junkets to be paid for by the company — the government.
If an officeholder's fancy meal or trip truly has a governmental purpose, it ought to be paid for by the taxpayers.
And if it can't be justified, then it shouldn't happen.

"You and maybe 5% of the people think the public should pay," Stern says.

So the special interests gladly do.

The interests — labor, business, casinos — also donate to politicians' pet charities in their names.
Those contributions are called "behested payments."
It's a three-fer: the interests curry favor with the politicians, they earn tax write-offs and — probably their last concern — they help the charity.
Behested payments only need to be officially reported if they exceed $5,000 per year from a single interest.
Even so,$2.3 million has been reported in the names of legislators this year.

And roughly $3 million has been reported on behalf of Gov. Jerry Brown, practically all of it for two charter schools he created in Oakland while mayor.

Legislators can also solicit special interest money for a legal defense fund. In case they get snagged in a sting.
Unlike a campaign fund — for which there's a $4,100 contribution limit per election, or $8,200 total for the primary and general —
there's no donation cap for a legal kitty.

There's a common thread that ties every single one of these" pots, says Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC and a former chairman of the state Fair Political Practices Commission.
"That thread is a Capitol culture that is overwhelmingly focused on fundraising."
Compassion for the family

La Puente, CA

#366 Nov 20, 2013
Desert Storm Veteran - Thank you for your service.
Wonder why

Los Angeles, CA

#367 Nov 20, 2013
Real Estate would-be developers also play the game of contributing to politicians' favorite charities. Sometimes the charities also employ those same politicians. Witness the oil company PXP (now Freeport-McMoran), of which would-be developer Cook-Hill is a subsidiary, contributing to Kathy Salazar's organization MELA back when Kathy was on the city council.
World Traveller

Whittier, CA

#368 Nov 20, 2013
Bagwell
Lopez-Reid
Rosie Vasquez
Athens
Mike Lewis
John Edwards
Kathy Salazar
Robert Urteaga
Fire Fighters Union
Tom Calderon
Central Basin Water District

What do all these, and others, have in common?

They have all been touched by Cook-Hill and acted to support the condos-in-the-hills proposal.

Where are they now?

A cautionary tale for the current councilmembers.
Theolona Ranger

Los Angeles, CA

#370 Nov 20, 2013
where is Guzman?
Read the following and think of Kathy Salazar and MELA

Keep California legislators from profiting from ‘nonprofits’: Editorial

http://www.sgvtribune.com/opinion/20131118/ke...

One thing the Legislature must tend to in its next session has become quite clear in recent weeks: Clamp down on the use by some lawmakers of nonprofits to stash away payoffs or perhaps even bribes.

Allegations of bribe-taking by state Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, have riveted the attention of state legislators and the public.

Regardless of whether Calderon or anyone else is ever charged, let alone convicted, the case has demonstrated just how squishy the rules are for nonprofits that are set up by legislators — mostly, apparently, to improve their own standards of livings.

Calderon allegedly accepted $60,000 from an undercover FBI agent posing as a movie producer who wanted Calderon to push legislation expanding state tax breaks for film studios, according to the sealed FBI affidavit that was made public by Al Jazeera America cable news.

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.

According to an IRS document called a Form 990 filed by that nonprofit,

called Californians for Diversity,
1ts primary tax-exempt purpose is to “Educate, inform, support and focus the California voters on the ‘bread and butter’ issues of California:
jobs,
economic development,
schools,
affordable housing,
health care
and infrastructure.”

The Form 990 shows Californians for Diversity took in $40,500 in 2009 and spent $38,686.
It spent $13,976 on “Professional fees and other payments to independent contractors” and $12,108 on travel, food and beverages, and gifts.
In 2010, it spent $29,101, of which $21,500 went to travel, food and beverages.

Unfortunately, the forms don’t show to whom professional fees were paid or gifts were given, or who did the traveling and eating and drinking that seem to make up much of the “nonprofit’s” activities.
One might suspect that the name Calderon would show up repeatedly on the form if such reporting were required.

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:
“Then Tom and I down the road, we build that up, we can pay ourselves,”
he allegedly said.

The affidavit also alleges that Ron Calderon allowed Sen. Ricardo Lara to remain chairman of the Latino Legislative Caucus last year in return for a $25,000 donation from the caucus to Californians for Diversity.

Calderon isn’t the only pol to take advantage of this loophole.
The L.A. Times reported that former Assemblyman Tony Mendoza, who is running for Calderon’s seat next year,
was chairman of the Latino Legislative Caucus when its foundation,
which he also headed,
gave a $22,000 donation to the Southern California LEAD Foundation, a nonprofit founded by Mendoza’s wife.

That foundation spent $28,700 last year,$20,000 of it on travel, meetings and conferences.

The best time for reforms to become law is in the intermediate aftermath of a scandal.

This Calderon scandal, however it plays out legally, should provide legislators —
the clean ones, anyway —
with all the incentive they need to try to keep legislators and their kin from setting up “nonprofits” from which they profit and their constituents get next to nothing.
Theolona Ranger

Los Angeles, CA

#371 Nov 20, 2013
: Letters to the Editor
Rudy Dominguez, Whittier
POSTED: 11/05/13, 11:15 AM PST |

Ron Calderon has been too long at the public trough

Wake up, citizens who are in the district of state Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello.
For far too long this man has been at the trough, eating away at our hard-earned tax dollars that are suppose to be used for the betterment of our districts.
Some of this money is being used on himself and family.
Talk about nepotism! He has carried this idea of favoring family first to the max.

Why does he keep being elected to office?
I’ll tell you why, because we the voting public are too lazy to do anything about this situation with Ron Calderon.
I can bet he will not resign and down the road this too will blow over if he is not removed from office.
He will once again saunter to the trough and resume his insatiable appetite.

We are grateful to the news media and FBI sting that brought this to the public attention:
the robbing of public funds and unethical behavior.
I hope others will wake up and share my views.
I truly hope that he is prosecuted to the full extent of the law and pray that this is a stern warning to other elected officials.
We are fed up with this unethical behavior, which is rampant at every level of government.

Let’s elect qualified, honest, decent and ethical people to office and get rid of these corrupt self-serving individuals.

— Rudy Dominguez, Whittier
Montebello Historian

Monterey Park, CA

#372 Nov 21, 2013
You should all be ashamed of yourselves.

Because of all the criminal allegations, Ron's not going to be ostentatiously handing out free Thanksgiving turkeys this season.

Who is going to carry on the tradition?

Tom Calderon? Hector Chacon? Ramón Arellano Félix? Luis Fernando Sánchez Arellano? Joaquín Guzmán Loera?

Nothing like benevolent criminals to brighten up the holidays for their hometown people.
Trash Talk

South El Monte, CA

#373 Nov 21, 2013
Turkeys
Tony Mendoza D Artesia
and/or
Hector Chacon
Theolona Ranger

South El Monte, CA

#374 Nov 22, 2013
http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/video/9484551-...

Political Expert Weighs In On Allegations Against Sen. Calderon

Professor Michael Shires from Pepperdine University appeared on KCAL9 News Last Saturday morning to discuss recent allegations against Sen. Calderon.
Anybody get this to play?
World Traveller

La Puente, CA

#375 Nov 22, 2013
A rumor is going around that it looks like the Calderon turkey giveaway is going on tomorrow at Grant Rea Park.
World Traveller

Reseda, CA

#376 Nov 22, 2013
World Traveller wrote:
A rumor is going around that it looks like the Calderon turkey giveaway is going on tomorrow at Grant Rea Park.
Just drove through the park, and the signs say Nov. 25.
World Traveller

Reseda, CA

#377 Nov 22, 2013
Theolona Ranger wrote:
http://losangeles.cbslocal.com /video/9484551-political-exper t-weighs-in-on-allegations-aga inst-sen-calderon/
Political Expert Weighs In On Allegations Against Sen. Calderon
Professor Michael Shires from Pepperdine University appeared on KCAL9 News Last Saturday morning to discuss recent allegations against Sen. Calderon.
Anybody get this to play?
It plays fine if you let the buffer fill up about a third of the way before playing.



That means pause it for about 1 1/2 minutes before playing.
Knight Owl

South El Monte, CA

#378 Nov 23, 2013
"Calderon turkey giveaway "
What is the Calderon turkey giving away?
Giving away the secrets would be nice.
Theolona Ranger

South El Monte, CA

#379 Nov 23, 2013
Theolona Ranger

South El Monte, CA

#380 Nov 25, 2013
LA TIMES WITHHELD INFORMATION, FACTS
ON CALDERON,
SPEAKER PEREZ

http://www.loscerritosnews.net/wp-content/upl...
Theolona Ranger

South El Monte, CA

#381 Nov 25, 2013
Squad
add
Better Leadership for Montebello
http://bl4montebello.wordpress.com/
Theolona Ranger

South El Monte, CA

#382 Nov 25, 2013
The laws covering campaign fundraising and expenditures have undergone dozens of revisions since voters passed Proposition 9 in 1974,
which created the Political Reform Act and FPPC.

One policy that has long been on the books: campaign cash cannot be spent for personal use.

“The basic rule for spending campaign funds is simple: the funds are held in trust,
and may only be used to run for office or pay expenses associated with serving in office,” said Steve Churchwell, a Sacramento attorney.

After finishing behind Bill Lockyer in the Democratic primary for attorney general in 1998, former Sen. Charles Calderon of Whittier acknowledged tapping his statewide committee for more than $3,000 to buy a skirt and sweater for his wife and a “casual ensemble” and two business suits for himself at Nordstrom.
Payments were made with separate personal credit cards.
The next month, Calderon directed his attorney general account to pay the bills for him and his wife.

His $18,000 FPPC fine also cited a family vacation to Lake Tahoe and a rented limousine for a premiere of the Jim Carrey comedy “Liar, Liar.”

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/11/18/5924688/lawm...
Theolona Ranger

South El Monte, CA

#384 Nov 27, 2013
Many instances of "non profit charity" abuse delineated in above posts.
It's not just the Tea Party folks

The Obama administration moved on Tuesday to rein in the use of tax-exempt groups for political campaigning.

http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/US-IRS-Polit...

http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/irs-rule-dav...
Knight Owl

South El Monte, CA

#385 Nov 28, 2013
Yet another odious tactic of the Calderons, almost as bad as the setting up of an unlimited amount of " legal defense funds". This is setting up "campaign committees" and fundraising for future offices. Calderon is doing this even tough "termed out". Then they make a "charitable contribution" to their "non profit"
Calderon's was "Citizens for Diversity"
Or they give the money to other candidates thus continuing their power while no longer in office.

Gov. Jerry Brown keeps collecting campaign donations
http://www.latimes.com/local/political/la-me-...
SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Jerry Brown’s campaign account continues to swell with new donations, even though he hasn’t officially said whether he...
Truth Squad

Los Angeles, CA

#386 Nov 29, 2013
Ranger- did you mean that this should be in the Christina thread?
"Squad
add
Better Leadership for Montebello
http://bl4montebello.wordpress.com/ "

back on topic
http://www.sacbee.com/2013/11/18/5924688/lawm...

Lawmakers’ higher office fundraising, spending draws scrutiny

Lawmakers preparing to step down because of term limits have for years created committees to raise money for statewide offices. Many harbor plans to again seek higher office, but whether they actually run or not, creating a statewide campaign committee while they are still in the Legislature allows them to leverage the power of incumbency to stockpile money for the future.

They spend hundreds of thousands of campaign dollars on travel abroad, fine dining and entertainment. State law prohibits such spending for personal use, but politicians only have to state the expenses are reasonably related to political, legislative or government purposes – a definition good government advocates say is too broad.

Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California, said it was “beyond ridiculous” that lawmakers could solicit contributions for a campaign that may never come to fruition.

“It’s simply a convenient way for legislators to shake down special interests for even more money than fundraising limits allow,” said Schnur, a former chairman of the FPPC.
“Once a donor is maxed out to your state Assembly or state Senate account, you can simply ask them for money for one or two or five statewide office accounts.”

Calderon!!!

Schnur said,“but giving money to a sitting legislator who has a committee open is an ideal way to buy access.”

One policy that has long been on the books: campaign cash cannot be spent for personal use.

“The basic rule for spending campaign funds is simple: the funds are held in trust, and may only be used to run for office or pay expenses associated with serving in office,” said Steve Churchwell, a Sacramento attorney.

After finishing behind Bill Lockyer in the Democratic primary for attorney general in 1998, former Sen. Charles Calderon of Whittier acknowledged tapping his statewide committee for more than $3,000 to buy a skirt and sweater for his wife and a “casual ensemble” and two business suits for himself at Nordstrom.

Payments were made with separate personal credit cards. The next month, Calderon directed his attorney general account to pay the bills for him and his wife.

His $18,000 FPPC fine also cited a family vacation to Lake Tahoe and a rented limousine for a premiere of the Jim Carrey comedy “Liar, Liar.”

Phillip Ung, policy advocate with California Common Cause, suggested a raft of fixes to help guard against questionable expenditures –
limit public officials to one future committee; enact stricter definitions for political, legislative or government purposes and make contribution limits the same for statewide and legislative office.

At present, lawmakers can solicit up to $4,100 per election from each donor to a legislative committee, while the limit for statewide office (other than governor) is $6,800.

“What you have is people raising a ton of money, spending it on a host of things that I think voters would say don’t pass the smell test,
but writing it off as campaign expenses because they took a trip or had a dinner with a campaign consultant,” Ung said.

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