SACRAMENTO — Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said Wednesday that embattled state Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello) should be temporarily removed as chairman of the Senate Insurance Committee while he faces a federal bribery probe.
The investigation, detailed last week in a television report by Al Jazeera America, includes allegations that Calderon accepted $88,000 in bribes in exchange for his help in influencing legislation. The allegations were contained in what the network reported as a sealed FBI affidavit.
Steinberg, in a statement, said he was not casting judgment on the truthfulness of the allegations, but believed it was unwise for Calderon to keep his committee posts.
"The allegations, though yet unproven, are serious enough to cloud any interactions the senator might have with colleagues, advocates, and the public on issues within his jurisdiction," Steinberg said.
“The allegation that an elected official accepted money and other favors in exchange for official acts is perhaps the most serious breach of the public trust and the institution in which they serve," he said. "In other highly sensitive public situations that do not involve proven allegations of misconduct, public employers take similar actions. The public and the Senate deserve no less protection in the current situation.”
Mario Beltran, a spokesman for Calderon, said his boss "has no comment at the moment."
In addition to removing Calderon from his seat leading the insurance committee, Steinberg said Calderon should be stripped of all his committee memberships until the federal investigation is over. Calderon holds seats on the Senate committees on banking, environmental quality, governmental organization and procurement.
Steinberg's recommendation will be considered by the Senate Rules panel, which oversees committee appointments, on Tuesday.
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