California Senate panel to come up with new ethics, campaign laws

State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) discusses the conviction of Sen. Roderick D. Wright (D-Inglewood) at the Capitol last month. Steinberg has put together a working group to revamp legislative ethics and campaign finance laws.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

SACRAMENTO -- With the state Legislature being rocked by scandal after scandal, the leader of the Senate has assembled a group of lawmakers to come up with recommended changes in state ethics and campaign laws, officials announced Monday.

The Senate Ethics Working Group was formed by Senate President Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) amid a series of controversies including:

-- Allegations in a leaked FBI affidavit that Sen. Ronald S. Calderon (D-Montebello) accepted bribes to affect legislation.


-- A jury’s finding that Sen. Roderick D. Wright (D-Inglewood) is guilty of eight felony counts of perjury and voter fraud for lying when he said he lived in his senate district when he ran for office.

-- An administrative law judge’s recommendation of $40,000 in fines against Sen. Tom Berryhill (R-Modesto) and two Republican county committees for allegedly laundering campaign contributions to the 2008 Assembly campaign of his brother, Bill Berryhill.

-- A state Fair Political Practices Commission staff decision to fine lobbyist Kevin Sloat and his firm a record $133,500 for improperly providing campaign contributions to Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers including Steinberg.

The Senate leader’s proposal to come up with new restrictions is not a result of any one case, spokesman Rhys Williams said.

“Sen. Steinberg formed a working group to examine legislative and campaign finance rules in California and other states, with a view to formulating a package of reforms this session,” Williams said Monday.

The group is being led by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) and includes Democratic Sens. Ellen Corbett of San Leandro, Kevin de León of Los Angeles, Bill Monning of Carmel, Jerry Hill of San Mateo and Richard Roth of Riverside.


Prison-crowding order renews talk of sentencing changes

Lobbyist faces record $133,500 fine for improper payments

Lobbyist Kevin Sloat ‘regrets’ improper campaign contributions