L.A. Now Live: Feds probe ‘income stream’ of state Sen. Calderon

State Sen. Ron Calderon
State Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello), right, pictured in 2004, has attracted scrutiny for his use of campaign funds. He’s now said to be under federal investigation.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Federal authorities who raided the Capitol office of state Sen. Ronald S. Calderon (D-Montebello) are investigating his “income stream,” a law enforcement source familiar with the case told The Times.

Calderon’s knack for raising campaign cash and collecting gifts has attracted attention, often unwanted, since he arrived in Sacramento more than a decade ago. Now the Democratic state senator finds himself in the sights of federal investigators.

Join Chris Megerian at 9 a.m. Thursday for a discussion about Calderon and the latest in the case.

Calderon’s ties to the Central Basin Municipal Water District in southeast Los Angeles County appear to be part of the inquiry. Two local city officials and a utility contractor told The Times that the FBI interviewed them about legislation written by Calderon, and about water district consulting contracts held by the lawmaker’s brother Tom Calderon.


One of the officials, who asked not to be identified because the investigation is ongoing, said “100% of what they were asking about” involved the Calderons and the water district.

The U.S. attorney’s office and FBI remained mum about the investigation. On Tuesday, FBI agents raided Calderon’s state Capitol office, carting away boxes and a weathered briefcase.

U.S. Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (D-Norwalk) said she has heard complaints for more than a decade from cities she represents about the agency’s lack of transparency and questionable spending of public funds.

In particular, Napolitano questioned how the district spent $5.6 million in federal funds she helped secure to build infrastructure for a regional system to recycle water.


The district received a subsequent research grant from the Department of Energy in conjunction with HydroEarth, a Lake Forest-based water management firm. But instead of moving forward with the original proposal, Central Basin amended the project and opened it up for competitive bidding. Agency officials subsequently chose to partner with a different company, Water2Save, a firm that paid Tom Calderon, a former assemblyman, $140,000 per year.

“It was just ridiculous,” she said. “This is ratepayer money. It’s not the Central Basin’s money.”

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