By Jim Miller and Christopher Cadelago
Lashing back at federal officials and Senate colleagues, state Sen. Ron Calderon contended in a federal filing late Wednesday that authorities leaked an FBI affidavit alleging that he took $88,000 in bribes after Calderon refused to participate in a sting operation targeting Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Sen. Kevin de León.
In Wednesday's filing in Sacramento federal court, Calderon contends that FBI agents and federal prosecutors repeatedly pressured him to wear a wire to secretly record conversations with Steinberg and de León.
The document alleges that agents told Calderon that they were investigating Steinberg's financial ties to Michael Drobt, the former chief executive officer of Pacific Hospital of Long Beach.
Calderon, though, said he returned the recording equipment unused. Soon after, on June 4, the filing says, FBI agents raided Calderon's Capitol office.
Steinberg said in a statement that the filing "is pure fantasy." De León declined comment. His office has previously said he was told he is not a target of the investigation.
Late last month, Al Jazeera America posted an FBI affidavit alleging that Calderon took $60,000 in bribes from an FBI agent posing as a film studio owner and $28,000 in bribes from Drobot.
Calderon alleges federal prosecutors attempted to convict him in the press through an orchestrated campaign of "illegal disinformation."
He said in the filing that critical facts regarding the federal government's activities were omitted or misrepresented, including that Steinberg and de León were "main targets of the investigation, for which Sen. Calderon was requested to be the FBI's informant."
Calderon also alleges that leaked sealed records are apparently the "modus operandi" for handling high-profile cases by Assistant U.S. Attorney Doug Miller's office, including one involving champion cyclist Lance Armstrong, who was accused of doping.
"The pattern of illegal leaks in cases handled by the AUSA-CDC has grown more brazen over the years culminating in the most flagrant and prejudicial violations yet with respect to Senator Calderon," the filing says. "There is a systematic and systemic pattern of contempt for secrecy rules in (Miller's) cases resulting in the complete corruption of the legal process and character assassination of his targets. This conduct is deeply disturbing given that (he) purports to represent the public corruption division within the AUSA's office."
Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles, said "We're not commenting tonight."
Calderon alleges the release of the sealed records has prejudiced any future grand jury and that he's faced irreparable harm. It cites Steinberg's comments at a hearing Tuesday where his rules committee stripped Calderon of his committee assignments as well as multiple instances of Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, calling on him to resign his seat.
"Despite the fact that no charges against Senator Calderon have been filed, Senator
Calderon's reputation has been irreparably damaged by the selective and illegal leak of the fabricated FBI affidavit which was ordered sealed," the filing states. "The presumption of innocence has been turned on its head."