Senate leader says he’s not being investigated; blasts Calderon claim

Darrell Steinberg, the California Senate's president pro tem, on Tuesday as he met with reporters after the Senate Rules Committee, which he chairs, stripped state Sen. Ron Calderon of committee assignments.
Darrell Steinberg, the California Senate’s president pro tem, on Tuesday as he met with reporters after the Senate Rules Committee, which he chairs, stripped state Sen. Ron Calderon of committee assignments.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

SACRAMENTO -- Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said Thursday that he is not under federal investigation, in response to allegations lobbed by embattled Sen. Ronald S. Calderon (D-Montebello).

Calderon, who is the subject of a federal bribery probe, said in a court filing Wednesday that a sealed affidavit detailing the investigation was leaked as retribution because Calderon refused to wear a wire in a sting operation against Steinberg and Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles).

Steinberg, speaking to reporters outside the Capitol on Thursday, said the allegations in the court filing were “beyond the pale.”

“I am not a target of this investigation, I’m not a subject of this investigation,” Steinberg said.

“Whatever conversations the authorities may have had with the senator, whether he wore a wire – I have no idea,” Steinberg said. “All I know is that I do my job with integrity and I do it very well. And I’ll take whatever slings and arrows come my way.”


Steinberg noted that two days earlier the Senate Rules Committee had temporarily stripped Calderon of committee assignments and indicated that that move was motivation for Calderon’s assertions.

Calderon’s court filing alleges that he “was approached on six separate occasions by high level agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and on two occasions” by Assistant U.S. Atty. Doug Miller “demanding that Senator Calderon participate in a sting operation against Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg.”

“The FBI was specifically interested in Senator Steinberg’s financial activities with Michael Drobot, the former Chief Executive Officer of Pacific Hospital of Long Beach,” the filing alleges. It says the agency also wanted information on “other donors to the Senate pro Tem’s political action committees.”

Steinberg said he had “no relationship” with Drobot, but said he had met the healthcare executive, who had attended several fundraising events for Senate Democrats. He also had one meeting several years ago regarding workers compensation legislation with Drobot and Tom Calderon, the senator’s brother, who has worked as a consultant for Drobot.

Steinberg said he spoke to Drobot “on one occasion, heard him out and rejected his request and did just the opposite” in SB 863, a major workers compensation bill that passed in August 2012.

The leaked federal affidavit alleged that Calderon accepted $28,000 in bribes from Drobot in exchange for efforts to influence workers compensation bills.

Steinberg says he has “no ill will” toward Calderon.

“I’m obviously angry and unhappy about my good name being dragged into something like this,” he said. “But you know what -- I’m a professional and I have a job. And I’m going to continue doing my job.”

Times staff writer Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento contributed to this report.


Calderon says investigation is payback

Sen. Ronald Calderon stripped of committee assignments amid inquiry

Calls mount for Ron Calderon’s resignation