Calls mount for Ron Calderon’s resignation

Elected leaders from across southeast Los Angeles County called Wednesday for state Sen. Ronald S. Calderon (D-Montebello) to step down amid a federal corruption investigation, saying that it is hurting their efforts to regain voters’ trust after a series of scandals in the region.

At a news conference in Bell Gardens, council members from the cities of Bell, Commerce and Downey and the mayors of Downey, Montebello, Norwalk and South Gate stood with state Assembly member Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) to demand Calderon’s resignation.

“The public must be able to trust their elected officials,” Garcia said. “Every day I’m hearing from them: ‘We don’t trust you.’ This is sucking the air out of everything we do.”

Their call came one day after Calderon was stripped of his legislative committee assignments in response to a federal investigation into whether the lawmaker accepted $88,000 in bribes in exchange for efforts to influence legislation on tax credits for the film industry and on workers’ compensation policy.

A Democrat whose family has been prominent in California politics for decades, Calderon has not been charged with any crime.


In a statement Wednesday, he suggested that calls for his resignation were politically motivated. He took aim at Garcia, who organized Wednesday’s news conference and who some believe may be interested in running for Calderon’s Senate seat.
“Without knowing the full story and waiting to hear all the facts in this case, she has assumed the role of judge and jury by calling for my resignation,” Calderon said in the statement. He said he hopes Garcia “comes to understand that what has happened to me could happen to anyone in public office.”

“Sometimes one is better served to act in kindness than in self-righteousness because all politicians live in glass houses,” he said.

Garcia, a Democrat who defeated Calderon’s brother in the race for the 58th Assembly District, ran on a platform of ousting local corruption. On Tuesday, she said she is not interested in replacing the embattled politician.

“I’m not running for the Senate,” she said.

At the news conference, other local leaders complained that Calderon has been absent from parts of his district, which takes in much of southeast Los Angeles County. Downey Mayor Mario Guerra said Calderon has not appeared at an event in his city in more than a year.

Gil Hurtado, the mayor of South Gate, complained that the Calderon investigation is giving a bad name to a region already struggling to redefine itself after the Bell corruption scandal, in which city officials were accused of looting the city treasury to pay themselves excessive salaries. He said it also hurts Latino elected officials.

“We are getting judged based on this,” he said.


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