FBI agents are asking questions about an environmental bill carried by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) in 2013 after The Times reported on controversy surrounding the measure, a source familiar with the inquiry said Tuesday.
The source, who was interviewed by the FBI, said agents asked basic factual questions about SB 37 during a visit in Sacramento last week but did not give any indication that they had evidence of any wrongdoing. An FBI representative reached late Tuesday did not know of any active investigation.
Dan Reeves, the chief of staff for De Leon, said neither the senator nor any of his staff has heard anything from the federal agents. “I don’t know of anyone who had been contacted by the FBI,” Reeves said.
The Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee rejected the De Leon bill in April 2013 after its staff raised several objections to the measure, which would have required utilities to develop programs to lend residential customers the cost of energy-efficiency projects and have the debt paid back monthly through their utility bills. At the time, De Leon was not a Senate leader.
The bill was supported by companies that provide green power and energy-efficiency projects. However, Reeves said the measure was proposed by the nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund.
The committee staff analysis concluded that parts of the measure “have potentially harmful effects for consumers.” With that analysis in hand, the legislation was opposed by two Democrats, including the committee chairman at the time, current Secretary of State Alex Padilla, and it failed passage.
The Times reported last month that De Leon had fired committee staff members, but Reeves said it was to bring in experts on climate change issues to reflect De Leon’s emphasis on that area.
FBI agents have in the last few years asked state officials about a handful of bills. Two former state senators, Leland Yee and Ronald Calderon were indicted last year on allegations of taking bribes.