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