Tom Calderon nonprofit received $25,000 from Latino caucus panel

California state Sen. Ron Calderon, left, talks with California Assembly Speaker John Perez, while former state assemblyman Tom Calderon, center, talks with a friend.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

SACRAMENTO -- A nonprofit group formed by former Assemblyman Tom Calderon received $25,000 this year from a group tied to the California Latino Legislative Caucus just after his brother, Sen. Ronald S. Calderon (D-Montebello) ended a term as vice chairman of the caucus.

The contribution is raising eyebrows around the Capitol. It was made by a political committee called “Yes We Can” to Californians for Diversity, a nonprofit group whose last tax filing, for 2011, listed Tom Calderon as president and said he received $2,500 in compensation from it that year.

The nonprofit is late in filing its tax returns for 2012, and Tom Calderon declined to comment Wednesday on the issue.


Sen. Calderon, whose office was raided by FBI agents in June, was vice chairman of the Latino caucus and in line to become chairman of the group last year when it voted to keep Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) in the chairmanship after a squabble between different factions.

State officials who have been interviewed by the FBI say one of the things investigators are looking at is whether Sen. Calderon’s agreement to step down from leadership of the caucus resulted in some benefit to himself or Tom Calderon.

Californians for Diversity was formed in 2008 to “educate, inform, support and focus the California voters on the ‘bread and butter’ issues of California” including jobs and schools, according to its latest tax filing.

In 2010, Tom Calderon’s Californians for Diversity spent $29,101, of which $21,500 was spent on travel and food and beverages.

In 2011, the group spent $56,049, with much of it going to travel or entertainment for public officials ($11,500), conferences and meetings ($5,742), polling ($5,000) and civic donations ($11,006).

The spending troubles some observers, including Kathay Feng, executive director of California Common Cause.

“I am concerned that Californians for Diversity is a nonprofit that does not have a clear charity or social benefit purpose,” Feng said. “I am also concerned that this nonprofit may have been created just to serve as a pass-through for money.”


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