Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

October 30, 2013
Read the FBI affidavit in the Ron Calderon investigation

Here is a copy of the affidavit, obtained by the Al Jazeera America network, that the FBI used to obtain a search warrant in the investigation of California state Sen. Ron Calderon.

FBI affidavit.pdf

October 30, 2013
Ron Calderon FBI sting detailed in affidavit


Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, accepted $60,000 in bribes from undercover FBI agents during a wide-ranging probe into his conduct as a legislator, according to a 125-page affidavit published online Wednesday by cable news network Al Jazeera.

No charges have been filed against Calderon. But the document says the Democrat from Montebello worked with interest groups in a pay-to-play fashion, accepting money from health care and film industry representatives in exchange for promises to carry or amend legislation to their benefit.

The document details one instance in which Calderon hired a female undercover agent as a staff member as a favor to another undercover agent, although he was told she had few qualifications for the job. It says Calderon asked agents he believed to be in the movie-making business to provide money for his children, Jessica and Zachary.

"One way you could be a real help to (my daughter) is, you got any work?" Calderon said to the undercover agent posing as the film studio owner during a June 2012 dinner in Pico Rivera, according to the affidavit.

"I told you man, anything you can do, any help you could do for my kids is, is - you know that's that's diamonds for me. That's diamonds."

The agent was asking Calderon to change California's tax credit program for film makers so that smaller productions would qualify for the credit. Under a bill Calderon carried in 2009 and an extension passed in 2012, productions that cost at least $1 million and are shot in California can enter a lottery to get a tax break. The affidavit describes Calderon talking to the undercover agent about working to lower the threshold.

The Al Jazeera report comes months after federal agents descended on Calderon's office in a rare Sacramento spectacle. Since then, The Sacramento Bee has explored questions orbiting the powerful Calderon family's connections to a Los Angeles-area water district and scrutiny over former Assemblyman Tom Calderon's ties to a hospital, also the target of a federal raid, that relates to a broader debate over worker compensation.

PHOTO: Senator Ron Calderon speaks to the media outside Senate chambers on Monday June 10, 2013, at the State Capitol. The Sacramento Bee/Manny Crisostomo.

October 30, 2013
Schwarzenegger pays visit to Capitol, and lawmakers behave

schwarzenegger.jpgWith Congress behaving a bit like an unruly classroom lately, it seemed all too appropriate to call in the Kindergarten Cop.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the movie star and former Republican governor of California, paid a visit Wednesday to the Capitol to promote his After-School All Stars program, aimed at keeping kids out of trouble.

But Schwarzenegger's visit kept lawmakers out of trouble, at least for a day.

Barely a month after much of the federal government shut down and barely two weeks after the country came perilously close to defaulting on its debt, Democrats and Republicans in both the House and the Senate were on their best behavior.

Speaking to reporters, flanked by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Schwarzenegger praised members of an institution that's received worse ratings from the public than a bad movie.

"You read so much about the partisanship here in the Capitol," he said, as reporters snapped pictures on their cellphones. "I have only seen the best of this Capitol."

But if things get out of hand again, maybe he'll be back.

PHOTO: Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, left, talks with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., before a meeting about funding after school programs, Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

October 30, 2013
Nonprofit run by Tom Calderon got $25,000 from a Latino Caucus PAC


Early this year, a political fundraising committee connected to the Legislature's Latino Caucus gave $25,000 to a group run by Tom Calderon, the former assemblyman whose brother, Sen. Ron Calderon, had just concluded serving two years as the group's vice chairman.

The Jan. 2 contribution to "Californians for Diversity" came just a few weeks after Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, stood down from an earlier bid to become the caucus chairman -- and about five months before the FBI raided Ron Calderon's Capitol offices.

It was an unusual payment for the Yes We Can political action committee, a fundraising arm of the Latino Caucus that accepts donations from interest groups and gives money to support Latino candidates. The $25,000 contribution to Tom Calderon's nonprofit organization is the only "civic donation" listed on the committee's expenditures since it formed in 2011.

Chairmanship of the biggest caucus in California's Legislature was the source of some turmoil last year, with then-Assemblyman Tony Mendoza stepping down in February and Ricardo Lara -- who was an assemblyman at the time -- taking his place.

Ron Calderon was vice chairman of the caucus at the time, putting him in line to become chairman of the caucus in December, when legislators began a new two-year session. Instead, lawmakers in the Latino caucus voted on Dec. 3 to keep Lara as their chair. The contribution to Tom Calderon's group followed just a few weeks later.

"That was a nonprofit we were trying to raise money for to heighten public awareness of the Latino caucus," Tom Calderon told The Bee. "We had just started fundraising. We haven't done very much."

The group's tax returns show Tom Calderon as president of Californians for Diversity, receiving $2,500 in compensation in 2011.

It's unclear why the Latino caucus would give Tom Calderon's group a donation. Sen. Ricardo Lara, the Bell Gardens Democrat who chairs the Latino caucus, and Ron Calderon, who had been in line to become the caucus chair during the last legislative session, declined to answer questions for this report.

October 30, 2013
Hannah-Beth Jackson, advocates tout car sale ballot push


Add buying a car to the growing list of consumer transactions California voters could be asked to regulate during the 2014 election.

In a Wednesday morning conference call, Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, and the president of proponent Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety announce the filing of a proposed ballot measure that would impose new restrictions on automotive sales.

Car sale safety has already been a focus for Jackson, who last session authored a stalled bill that would bar dealers from selling or leasing cars that have been targeted by safety recalls unless they've repaired the cars.

"We should be able to rely on these vehicles as being safe, particularly when they're purchased from a car dealer," Jackson said during Wednesday's call.

The proposed ballot initiative includes similar provisions on selling calls under safety recalls. It would also tighten the rules around car purchases, prohibiting dealers from charging markups on loans and from altering contracts after a sale has been made, and eliminate the New Motor Vehicle Board's ability to overrule California Department of Motor Vehicle decisions disciplining dealers for consumer fraud.

"We need the DMV to be the cop on the beat for us," Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, said on Wednesday.

Protections against identity theft also play a role, including language prohibiting dealerships from hiring employees with past convictions for identity theft or forgery.

"The auto dealers hold the keys to the kingdom when it comes to identity theft" given their access to rich troves of personal data, Beth Givens of the San Diego-based Privacy Rights Clearinghouse said on the conference call.

Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety spent just over $65,000 on lobbying during the 2013 legislative session, according to filings with the California Secretary of State. Shahan said the organization has so far funded the polling and legal work surrounding the proposed initiative but is still recruiting potential funders for a signature-gathering campaign. Voicing support during the conference call was Boysen Anderson of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

PHOTO: New Honda automobiles are displayed at Mel Rapton Honda on December 10, 2012 in Sacramento, Calif. The Sacramento Bee/Paul Kitagaki Jr.

October 30, 2013
AM Alert: Janet Napolitano to lay out higher education plan


As former California Fair Political Practices Commission chief Ann Ravel's transition this week to the Federal Election Commission demonstrated, the California-to-Washington pipeline continues to function.

Moving in the opposite direction is Janet Napolitano, the former Obama administration cabinet secretary who has traded homeland security for higher education. The University of California regents confirmed Napolitano as president back in July, and tonight Napolitano will be in San Francisco to deliver a speech billed as the first major public address of her tenure.

While running a public university network may seem less daunting than overseeing America's sprawling national security and immigration systems, Napolitano will have plenty to keep her occupied. A recent report from the Little Hoover Commission called for a radical rethinking of California's public colleges, arguing that a cash infusion alone can't reverse stagnating graduation rates and access lagging behind demand.

Napolitano has also generated a backlash from Californians unhappy with her legacy at the Department of Homeland Security, particularly the record number of deportations. Protesters plan to denounce Napolitano when she arrives at Oakland Technical High School for a speech this morning.

LATTER-YEAR LAWMAKERS: The Assembly and Senate chambers will see their recess tranquility interrupted this week, with aged Californians in town for a meeting of the California Senior Legislature. After hearing yesterday from Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis, the elder statespeople will hold legislative floor sessions this morning, break for committee hearings in the afternoon and then convene for an evening banquet at the Hyatt Regency.

WATER BOND: Lawmakers will be in Indio today for an Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee hearing focused on regional water needs and the potential solutions contained in a 2014 bond proposal by committee chair Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood. Expected attendees included Rendon and Assembly members V. Manuel PĂ©rez, Brian Dahle and Mariko Yamada. Starting at 2 p.m. in the Indio City Hall Council Chambers.

LINKED LEARNING: Bipartisan alert: two days after Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, was at an area high school touting a quarter billion dollars for high school courses tailored to career preparation, Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, will be in Rancho Cucamonga talking up the same program.

RANGER ARNOLD: For the third time in its history, the U.S. Forest Service will christen an honorary ranger. The recipient of this rarefied recognition? Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who will be lauded for his climate change record during a ceremony at the U.S. Department of Agriculture today.

PHOTO: Janet Napolitano, then director of the Department of Homeland Security, shown on April 17, 2013. Olivier Douliery/ Abaca Press/ MCT.


Capitol Alert Staff

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers California politics and edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. Twitter: @capitolalert

Amy Chance Amy Chance is political editor for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @Amy_Chance

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee.

Christopher Cadelago Christopher Cadelago covers California politics and health care. Twitter: @ccadelago

Micaela Massimino Micaela Massimino edits Capitol Alert.

Laurel Rosenhall Laurel Rosenhall covers the Legislature, the lobbying community and higher education. Twitter: @LaurelRosenhall

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. Twitter: @davidsiders

Dan Walters Dan Walters is a columnist for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @WaltersBee

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