Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

December 31, 2013
California Latino Caucus closes one of its fundraising PACs


The Legislature's Latino Caucus is ringing in the new year by severing ties to a political action committee that has attracted the attention of the FBI.

Yes We Can, one of two political fundraising accounts affiliated with the Latino Caucus, filed papers declaring its termination today, the last day of 2013. The PAC began the year by making a $25,000 contribution on January 2 to a nonprofit group run by a brother of Sen. Ron Calderon, the Montebello Democrat who is the subject of a federal corruption investigation.

The contribution is described in a 124-page FBI affidavit that alleges Calderon took $88,000 in bribes from an undercover agent and a hospital executive. The affidavit suggests that the Latino Caucus PAC made the $25,000 contribution to Calderon's brother's group to settle a dispute between Calderon and state Sen. Ricardo Lara over who would chair the powerful caucus.

The affidavit describes a secretly-recorded conversation between Calderon and an undercover agent in which the senator says that he and his brother, former Assemblyman Tom Calderon, planned to draw income from the group, a nonprofit called Californians for Diversity.

"Tom and I down the road, we build that up, we can pay ourselves," Calderon said, according to the affidavit. "Just kind of make, you know, part of living."

The contribution to Tom Calderon's nonprofit was the only "civic donation" that Yes We Can has ever made, according to its campaign finance filings. The committee accepted $299,200 in donations from interest groups in 2013, and spent almost $406,000. Expenditures included $260,000 in political contributions as well as roughly $48,000 to the Cordevalle golf resort, $46,000 to political fundraiser Julie Sandino and $25,000 to the Wilke Fleury law firm whose partner, lobbyist John Valencia, is treasurer of Yes We Can.

PHOTO: California State Senator Ron Calderon, right, comforts his brother former state Assemblyman Tom Calderon at a memorial service for Tom's wife Marcella Calderon in January 2012. Los Angeles Times/Genaro Molina

December 31, 2013
Former California lawmaker pays state fine, closes committee


Former state Sen. Dean Florez has closed his 2014 campaign committee for state controller after paying off a $60,000 fine for misusing campaign funds, the largest such penalty in state history.

Although California law allows politicians to tap political donations to pay fines imposed by the state's campaign-finance watchdog, Florez paid $50,500 out of his own pocket. About $9,500 was money remaining in his controller's committee, according to a filing Friday afternoon.

The $60,000 fine came after Florez admitting spending $26,542 from committees he established to run for lieutenant governor and state controller on trips, meals and entertainment. He also failed to refund $247,000 in contributions.

The commission approved the fine at its Nov. 14 meeting.

Friday's filing with the secretary of state's office shows that Florez had $9,529 in the committee as of July 1. He paid the account $40,500 for "reimbursement" on Oct. 25, when he also made a $50,000 payment to "the general fund of the state of California," the filing shows.

Florez paid another $10,000 directly to the state to settle the fine.

PHOTO: Former state Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, left, in a 2010 committee hearing. Associated Press/ Rich Pedroncelli

December 31, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: New law spotlights California's poverty

It says a lot that a state as rich as California has so many poor students, Dan says.

Have a question you'd like Dan to answer? Post it on our Facebook page.

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.


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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