A Southeast Los Angeles County lawmaker is at the center of a federal investigation.
FBI agents combed the offices of state Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello) and the Latino Legislative Caucus on Tuesday. A federal law enforcement source said Calderon, a member of the caucus, was "the focus of the investigation." Authorities would not say what they were seeking or disclose the nature of the investigation.
FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said only that a court order prevented any further public disclosure about the matter and that the agency was "taking evidence respective to an ongoing investigation."
Lauren Horwood, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in Sacramento, said the investigation began in the federal agency's central California district, which includes Los Angeles. She declined to provide more details.
Other law enforcement sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, said the raids were part of a public corruption investigation in Los Angeles County.
Calderon attorney Mark Geragos called the probe a sham.
"The only one so far who has done anything improper is the government," Geragos said. "The government is out of control and we are going to take the appropriate action to hold them accountable. They should be ashamed of themselves."
Geragos said he plans to go to court to ask that anything taken from the senator's office be returned. Asked about the search of caucus records, Geragos said: "They were desperate to try to justify their … investigation."
Calderon, whose whereabouts were unclear at the time of the raid, is part of a political dynasty that stretches back three decades — a member of his family has held a seat in the California Legislature every year since 1983.
As word of Tuesday's searches spread through the building, reporters swarmed outside Calderon's office. Senate Sergeant at Arms Tony Beard released a statement saying: "We have no further information. The Senate has and will continue to fully cooperate with the agents in this matter."
Capitol janitors were instructed to stay out of the targeted offices as the search continued into the night. Shortly before 8 p.m., Beard escorted two women — one holding a stack of folders — to Calderon's office door, telling people inside: "Your agents are here." Beard said he did not know how late the investigators would stay.
Roughly 90 minutes later, about 10 people emerged from the office carrying three cardboard boxes, several plastic boxes, a beat-up black briefcase and a plastic folding table.