After being stripped of his ability to participate in legislative committees, Sen. Ron Calderon on Tuesday denounced "false allegations and illegal acts" leading to his being disciplined.
While Calderon's statement did not explicitly make mention of an FBI affidavit alleging that the Montebello Democrat had accepted bribes from an undercover agent and a hospital executive, it faulted a "federal agency" for unfairly targeting Calderon. In his first direct rejection of the affidavit's version of events, Calderon defended his work in the Legislature, including his chairmanship of the Senate Insurance Committee, and again lashed out at the media.
"I have not been charged or convicted with any unjust doing, yet I am being treated by this committee and some media outlets as if I had," Calderon said in reference to the Senate Rules Committee. "The appropriate action to take would be to allow me to continue the work I was elected to do and to allow me to remain on my committee assignments."
The strongly worded statement followed the Senate's Rules Committee unanimous vote on Wednesday to remove Calderon as chair of the Senate's insurance committee, and remove him as a member of the banking, environmental quality and government organization committees. The committee also voted to disband a so-called "select committee" chaired by Calderon and focused on the film and television industries.
"Our job here is not to determine whether or not there have been any violations of criminal law," said Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, who chairs the rules committee.
"Our job is to uphold the code of ethics of the Senate and the standard of conduct expected of elected officials. It is in an attempt to strike that balance that I believe this decision is not only sound, but it is necessary."
Democratic Sens. Hannah Beth Jackson and Ricardo Lara, as well as Republican Bill Emmerson, joined Steinberg in casting the votes.
The move came two weeks after Al Jazeera America published an FBI affidavit alleging that Calderon accepted $60,000 in bribes from an undercover agent posing as a film studio owner who asked for Calderon's help writing a bill that would give a tax break for small movie productions. The affidavit also alleges that Calderon took $28,000 in bribes from a hospital executive who sought favorable treatment as the Legislature changed workers compensation laws.
The committee briefly discussed whether the Senate should open its own investigation into the allegations against Calderon. Bill Portanova, an attorney advising the Senate on the Calderon case, testified that federal prosecutors told him a legislative investigation could harm their case, which is still a work in progress.
The US Attorney's Office "requests that we hold off on our investigation especially at this sensitive time," Portanova said.
PHOTO: Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, at right with Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg on June 10, 2013. Sacramento Bee/Manny Crisostomo