3 GOP senators introduce resolution to expel Sen. Rod Wright
SACRAMENTO -- A trio of Republican state senators introduced a resolution Wednesday to expel Sen. Roderick Wright after he was convicted of eight felonies, and they say they will ask for a Senate vote on the measure Thursday.
The motion is expected to be sent to committee without action or tabled, according to sources close to the Senate Democratic leadership.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) has said previously that it is premature to expel Wright (D-Inglewood) before a trial judge verifies the verdicts.
On Wednesday, Steinberg defended his decisions and said Republican resolutions would be “addressed” if brought up on the floor.
“Senate leadership has already moved swiftly and decisively to address these difficult situations in a way that respects both the law and law enforcement and – above all else – safeguards the integrity of the Senate,” Steinberg said. “Senator Wright has taken a leave of absence until his criminal case is resolved. He’s not coming back unless the judge sets aside the verdict. Period.”
Sens. Stephen Knight of Palmdale, Joel Anderson of Alpine and Andy Vidak of Hanford introduced Senate Resolution 29, saying they opposed delaying action until a trial judge verifies the jury verdict and sentences Wright on May 16.
Last month, a jury convicted Wright of eight felony counts of voter fraud and perjury after prosecutors said the senator lied when he said he lived in his Senate district when he ran for election.
On Tuesday, Steinberg granted Wright a paid leave of absence until the trial court judge acts on a motion by Wright to toss out the jury verdict.
Steinberg has said a vote to expel Wright is premature before the judge acts.
The Republican senators cite a section of the state Constitution that says: “Laws shall be made to exclude persons convicted of … perjury, forgery, malfeasance in office, or other high crimes from office,” and they noted that senators take an oath of office to uphold the Constitution.
“The practices, traditions and standards of the Senate in previous cases involving senators convicted of felonies have led to swift and decisive actions by Senate leaders of the recent past,” the resolution says.
The resolution cites the felony conviction of Democratic Sen. Joseph B. Montoya in February 1990 and his resignation seven days later after facing a threatened vote of expulsion. They also noted that Republican Sen. C. Frank Hill was convicted on June 16, 1994, of committing three felonies and resigned three weeks later after the head of the Legislative Ethics Committee called on the Senate to expel him.
The resolution, which must be approved by a two-thirds vote of the Senate, says that Wright “is hereby expelled from the California State Senate for his eight felony guilty verdicts, effective immediately.”
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