Assemblymember Christina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) deserves credit for being the first state legislator to call on Senator Ron Calderon (D – Montebello) to resign
following the release last week of evidence that Calderon accepted tens of thousands of dollars in bribes from an FBI agent as part of an undercover operation. Senator Calderon would be well advised to heed the call or face an escalating campaign from constituents, activists and colleagues who have lost faith in his ability to govern with any credibility.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D – Sacramento) quickly acted to remove Calderon from the Film Commission
on which he sits. Editorial boards
have begun urging Steinberg to strip Calderon of committee assignments. This would a sharp rebuke and appropriate blow to a Senator who previously wielded significant power through his committee assignments.
If Senator Rod Wright (D – Inglewood) is any indication, the fact that Calderon should resign does not mean that he will. Three years ago Wright was indicted on voter fraud and perjury charges. He has managed to delay trial repeatedly. Last spring, he actually argued for a continuance of trial because of the busy legislative season, a particular affront to voters who believe Wright has no right to even hold office. Senator Wright’s trial was scheduled for trial this week, but was postponed again just last week.
Even worse than his refusal to resign, Senator Wright has exploited the pending charges to his financial advantage, testing the limits of corruption and conflict of interest laws. He attracts unlimited donations to his legal defense fund
, many from the same corporate interests who have business before him in the state legislature.
Fortunately, Al Jazeera published the sealed affidavit that laid out the details of the sting operation on Calderon. The affidavit evidences shameless corruption, enough that Senate President Pro Tem Steinberg said the affidavit made him “sick to my stomach.” Had the affidavit not becoming public, Calderon undoubtedly would have continued in office denying any allegations of misconduct and conducting business as usual.
Calderon has the right to refute the evidence, but it is hard to see how he can show his face in the Capitol. Calderon should resign before further damaging his constituents and the Senate.
Dean Preston is the founder and executive director of Tenants Together, California’s statewide organization for renters’ rights. For more information about Tenants Together, visit www.TenantsTogether.org.