SACRAMENTO -- The chairman of the state Senate’s ethics panel looking into actions of Sen. Ronald S. Calderon said Thursday that allegations against the Democratic lawmaker contained in a leaked FBI affidavit are troubling if true.
Sen. Richard Roth (D-Riverside) convened the first meeting of the Committee on Legislative Ethics behind closed doors Thursday morning and members received a briefing on committee powers as well as the Legislature’s standards of conduct.
The panel has been tasked with looking at allegations, contained in a leaked FBI affidavit, that Calderon took $88,000 in bribes from an undercover FBI agent and a businessman to affect legislation to extend film-industry tax credits and to change workers’ compensation laws.
“If the allegations in the affidavit are true, those are troubling issues,” Roth said after he emerged from the 80-minute meeting at the Capitol.
Calderon has not been charged with a crime, but the federal investigation is still pending.
The panel has hired an outside attorney, who has launched an independent review with plans to submit a report to the committee.
“We retained the outside counsel to review the affidavit having to do with the search warrant and determine whether there are any allegations in that affidavit that implicate our ethical standards and if so bring that information to the ethics committee,” Roth said.
In a sign of how significant the case is, in addition to the six members of the panel, the meeting was also attended by Senate Republican leader Bob Huff of Diamond Bar in his capacity as an ex officio member.
Former Sen. Robert Presley (D-Riverside), who chaired the ethics panel in the 1990s, said he wouldn’t be surprised if the committee waits to make a recommendation until after federal prosecutors and courts make a determination on possible criminal issues. The ethics committee has the power to recommend to the full senate that a member be sanctioned or expelled.