The FBI this afternoon raided the Capitol office of Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, as well as the office of the Legislature's Latino Caucus, the Senate's sergeant of arms said Tuesday evening.
"This afternoon, agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation served search warrants in the State Capitol at the office of Senator Ron Calderon and in the Legislative Office Building at the Latino Legislative Caucus office," said Tony Beard, the Senate's chief sergeant at arms, in a statement to the media.
"Those warrants are sealed by order of the Federal Court; therefore we have no further information," he said. "The Senate has and will continue to fully cooperate with the agents in this matter.
The FBI confirmed federal search warrants were issued in Sacramento.
Laura Eimiller, a spokeswoman for the agency in Los Angeles, said the search involved two locations, both related to the same investigation. She declined to discuss the investigation in any detail.
Neeki Bianchi, a special agent in Sacramento, said the investigation is "not a public safety issue."
Calderon, a business-friendly Democrat who is part of the Calderon political family dynasty, is serving out his final two years as a representative of the 30th Senate District.
Mark Geragos, Calderon's lawyer, said prosecutors "have no case," and accused them of acting inappropriately in disclosing that the FBI was conducting a search.
"The U.S. Attorney's Office should be ashamed of themselves," he said. "They have no case, so what they do is they leak the sealed information in an effort to hassle innocent people, and that's all the comment I have."
When asked about the nature of the investigation, Geragos said, "What they're going after is anything to divert attention from their own misfeasance or malfeasance."
He said, "All I know is that it's very easy to make an allegation when you've got search warrants that are under seal and don't have to defend it, and they should be ashamed of themselves."
Calderon flirted with challenging Democratic Rep. Linda Sanchez in a newly drawn House district in 2012, but dropped his candidacy after Sanchez secured the Democratic Party endorsement.
He chairs the Senate insurance committee as well as a special Senate committee on film and the television industry. Last year he authored successful legislation extending a program that offers tax credits to film producers.
Former Assemblyman Charles Calderon, the senator's brother, told The Sacramento Bee he has not spoken with him since the search warrants were executed.
"I'm shocked," Charles Calderon said. "Right now we don't know any facts, and without facts you speculate about the worst. But I know Ron and ... I am very confident that he'll be able to work through this and that when the facts do come out they will show him to have not been involved in anything."
The Latino Legislative Caucus, comprised entirely of Hispanic Democratic lawmakers, has come under scrutiny in the past for refusing to disclose information about donors to a nonprofit entity it controls called the Latino Legislative Caucus Foundation.
While there was no legal imperative for lawmakers in the Latino caucus to disclose that information, Assemblyman and then- caucus chair Tony Mendoza faced concern over what critics called unwarranted secrecy given the openness of counterparts like the Black Legislative Caucus. Under pressure from party leadership, Mendoza in July of 2011 released a list of donors who had poured more than $400,000 into the foundation since 2009.
More recently, Sen. Ricardo Lara, a Bell Gardens Democrat who currently chairs the Latino Legislative Caucus, canceled a Las Vegas fundraiser for Lara and the Latino Caucus Leadership PAC. The event was to be hosted by Station Casinos, which was been lobbying the Legislature to approve a gambling compact for the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians.
Recent filings show that the Latino Caucus Leadership PAC raised just over $74,000 in 2013 through the start of May, with the largest contributions coming from the plastic bag manufacturer Hilex Poly, a California real estate political action committee, NBC Universal and the Viejas tribal government.
Jim Sanders, David Siders and Jeremy B. White contributed to this report.
PHOTO CREDIT: The FBI raided the Capitol office of Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, and office of the Legislature's Latino Caucus, shown here on Tuesday, June 4, 2013. By Paul Kitagaki/The Sacramento Bee.