SACRAMENTO –State Sen. Ronald S. Calderon said Sunday that he was taking a paid leave of absence while he fights federal corruptions charges, costing the Senate Democrats their supermajority and potentially affecting their ability to pass some of their priority bills for months.
The Democrat from Montebello was charged last week with accepting nearly $100,000 in bribes as well as gourmet meals and high-priced golf games in exchange for actions on legislation.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) last week gave Calderon until Monday to resign or take a leave of absence. If he had refused, he would have faced a Senate vote to suspend him from office.
“I will be seeking a voluntary leave of absence from my legislative duties in Sacramento,” Calderon said in a statement. “This is not a resignation since I still have my day in court. However, due to the nature and complexity of the charges, and the discovery materials that I will have to review, I expect this to be a lengthy period of absence continuing until the end of the session in August.”
The loss of the supermajority means Democrats can no longer pass tax increases and adopt urgency measures without Republican support.
That could affect Steinberg’s proposal to scale back an $11-billion water bond and place the new measure on the November ballot, which would require a two-thirds vote. A two-thirds vote will also be needed to pass a proposed tax on oil pumped from the ground in California.
Some GOP lawmakers object to Calderon continuing to receive a paycheck while facing such serious charges.
“Sen. Calderon should do the right thing and resign,” Sen. Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) said Friday afternoon. “Until he is convicted or found not guilty, he should be suspended at the very least.”
Calderon is the second California state Senator to take a leave of absence in a week.
Sen. Roderick Wright (D-Inglewood) was granted a leave of absence Tuesday after a jury found him guilty of eight felony counts of perjury and voter fraud. Prosecutors say he lied about living in Inglewood in his Senate district when he ran for office.