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Sen. Calderon given a week to step down or face forced suspension

Laws and LegislationCrime, Law and JusticePoliticsJustice SystemJoel AndersonDarrell SteinbergRon Calderon

SACRAMENTO – Senate leaders said Monday they will give Sen. Ronald S. Calderon (D-Montebello) one week, until March 3, to either resign or take a leave of absence, after which he will face a possible Senate vote to suspend him from office.

“I think it is fair that we give Sen. Calderon a chance to consider the request we made” last Friday, said Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento). “We are being very deliberative.”

Senate Republican leader Bob Huff of Diamond Bar said he is willing to go along with the Democrats' move to give Calderon some time to act.

“Certainly, giving time to let some of the issues run their course with Sen. Calderon, who is not here today, is something we are willing to go along with the pro tem on, as long as action is coming soon,” Huff told reporters.

Some Republicans want swift action not only on Calderon but also to expel Sen. Roderick Wright (D- Inglewood), who was convicted last month of eight felonies, including perjury and voter fraud. Prosecutors said Wright lied about living in his Senate district when he was elected and voted there.

Sen. Joel Anderson (R-Alpine) said Monday he thinks the Senate should expel Wright, who was convicted, before acting on Calderon, who has only been charged.

Steinberg said he opposes a motion to expel Wright before a trial judge validates his conviction and sentences him. That hearing, originally scheduled for March 12, has been delayed by two months at the request of Wright’s attorney.

Huff was among those questioning why a senator charged but not convicted is facing removal while one actually convicted is not.

Steinberg said Wright’s case involves “ambiguity” in the law about whether a lawmaker has established a domicile in his district before running for office. The leader said Calderon’s charges are more serious, because they involve allegedly accepting nearly $100,000 in bribes for action on legislation.

The indictment, Steinberg said, “alleges the most serious violations of law and our ethics.”

“I hope that Sen. Wright succeeds in his motion before the trial judge. If he does not and the trial judge enters the conviction into the record and sentences him, then he can no longer remain a member of the state Senate,” Steinberg said.

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patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

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