As a group of civic leaders from southeast Los Angeles began a press conference this morning to call for Sen. Ron Calderon's resignation, the besieged state senator released a statement blasting Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia for organizing the event and saying "what has happened to me could happen to anyone in public office."
"In politics one expects politicians to act in their own interests. But it is still shocking to me when a politician acts out in such an opportunistic way as in the actions taken by Cristina Garcia. Without knowing the full story and waiting to hear all the facts in this case, she has assumed the role of judge and jury by calling for my resignation," says the statement from Calderon, a Montebello Democrat.
Garcia is the only state legislator to call for Calderon's resignation since an FBI affidavit made public last month alleged he's accepted $88,000 in bribes. Today Garcia gathered with the mayors of Norwalk, Montebello, Downey and Pico Rivera, as well as city council members from Bell and Commerce, to again ask Calderon to step down.
Garcia has a long-standing feud with the Calderon family; she beat the senator's brother Tom Calderon in her race for Assembly last year.
"During her campaign for State Assembly she said time and again that she was not a politician. She told the voters that she was going to be different. Soon after her election she confessed to the voters that she lied about having a PhD. She said that she made a mistake and was sorry for misleading the public about her qualifications. She asked the voters to give her the benefit of the doubt and to judge her on her actions as their new Assemblywoman," Calderon's statement today said.
During her campaign for Assembly last year, Garcia told the Los Cerritos Community Newspaper that she had finished coursework for a PhD but did not yet have the degree, contrary to the way she had portrayed herself.
"I take full responsibility for using the term PhD instead of PhD candidate in my campaign literature. For that I humbly apologize and ask for the forgiveness and understanding of all the voters of the 58th Assembly District," Garcia said, according to the local newspaper.
Garcia lives in Ron Calderon's 30th Senate District, which means she could run for his seat if he stepped down. But because new district boundaries kick in during next year's Senate elections, Garcia could not run in the November 2014 race to replace him in what will then be labeled the 32nd Senate District. Garcia's chief of staff Tim Reardon has said she has no intention of leaving the Assembly.
Calderon's statement today concluded by saying his current problems could befall "anyone in public office":
"It is now clear that she is a politician after all - quite an ambitious one at that. I would not wish on my worst enemy what I have been going through. But I do hope that Ms. Garcia comes to understand that what has happened to me could happen to anyone in public office. Sometimes one is better served to act in kindness than in self-righteousness because all politicians live in glass houses."
PHOTO: Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, pauses during session in Assembly chambers on March 11, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/ Hector Amezcua.