Before Calderon office raid, FBI checked out agency tied to senator

Reporter Sarah Hashim-Waris from The Times newsroom with details on the FBI's raid of state Sen. Ron Calderon's Sacramento office.

SACRAMENTO -- Officials at the FBI would not say why they raided the offices of California state Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello) and the Latino Legislative Caucus at the Capitol on Tuesday, but prior to the raid they interviewed at least one official in Los Angeles about contracts at an agency with links to Calderon and one of his brothers.

A company official who bid on work at the Central Basin Municipal Water District in Los Angeles County said Tuesday that he had been interviewed twice by FBI agents since March about the agency's contracting practices. Central Basin has paid up to $140,000 a year on a consultant contract with Tom Calderon, the senator's brother and a former state lawmaker himself.

In addition, Ron Calderon has authored legislation on behalf of Central Basin in the past.

Michael J. Franchek, a vice president at EcoGreen Services, said Tuesday that the FBI agents wanted to hear about his complaints and allegations that favoritism had been involved in contract awards, including the one that went to Tom Calderon.

Franchek said he talked to the agents about a federal stimulus grant to Central Basin. The water agency officials held competitive bidding and chose a firm called Water2Save to work on the project. The Los Angeles Times has reported that Tom Calderon also has a consulting contract with Water2Save.

"Our conversation went to Tom Calderon's relationship with Central Basin," Franchek said, adding that he voiced concern that Sen. Ron Calderon's influential status in the Legislature might have affected contracting decisions.