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cristina_garcia.jpgA freshman lawmaker who rose through the ranks as an anti-corruption crusader has called on besieged Sen. Ron Calderon to resign his seat over allegations that he took bribes in exchange for political favors.

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, said she couldn't keep her silence after the affidavit documenting the transgressions surfaced Wednesday.

"It is with mixed feelings, but with strong conviction that today I ask Senator Calderon to step down from his office to allow this black cloud to be removed from over the Capitol and over the State of California," Garcia said in a statement late Friday.

"I fully realize that we must respect the presumed innocence of Senator Calderon, but the distraction caused by this case, in my own backyard, and its long-term implications are detrimental to the fabric of government and to the citizens that the Senator represents."

Garcia, who lives in Calderon's 30th Senate District, became an oft-quoted figure during the municipal scandals in the southeastern Los Angeles city of Bell. Her organization, the Bell Association to Stop the Abuse, helped organize forums in the small community and signature-gathering efforts to recall council members after it was revealed that city officials paid themselves massive salaries while raising taxes.

Calderon, D-Montebello, is accused of taking more than $60,000 in bribes from undercover FBI agents during an extensive probe into his conduct as a legislator. No charges have been filed.

"I hope Senator Calderon will look within himself and make the proper decision," Garcia said.

PHOTO: Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens. Photo courtesy of Garcia's office.


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