Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said he was shocked and sickened by the allegations brought against a member of his caucus Wednesday, saying Sen. Leland Yee has until Friday to resign from office or face certain suspension.
Flanked by at least 16 of his colleagues, Steinberg characterized the charges against Yee, D-San Francisco, as extraordinary and said they gathered together to express their anger and revulsion at the day's events.
He said while Yee is presumed innocent until proven guilty, the indictment itself is "sickening" and "surreal," comparing it to something out of a Hollywood movie. Yee would be stripped of his committee chairmanship and all of his committee assignments, Steinberg said.
"Leave," Steinberg told Yee, who is accused of conspiring to traffic in firearms and public corruption. "Don't burden your colleagues and this great institution with your troubles. Leave!"
"I am angry on behalf of the people and I am angry on behalf of the 37 other members whose hard work everyday on behalf of the people is being tarnished because of events outside of their control and outside of our control," he added.
Steinberg's caucus has been hit with a string of legal woes - including cases against Sens. Rod Wright of Baldwin Hills and Ron Calderon of Montebello.
Democratic Sens. Kevin de Leon of Los Angeles and Mark Leno of San Francisco took the opportunity to forcefully defend Stenberg given the growing number of scandals gripping his house.
"It is our good fortune that the leader of this house is exemplary, a pillar of integrity," Leno said. "Darrell Steinberg sets a tone and we all respond to that."
De Leon, the incoming Senate leader, echoed many of his colleagues.
"There is nothing that Darrell does that enables or creates conditions for this type of behavior in this great institution," de Leon said.
"Let me underscore and let me emphasize, this legislative body, specifically the Senate, has moved forward some of the most groundbreaking policy measures in the last few decades - in a generation," he added.
PHOTO: Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento takes questions from members of the press earlier this month. (The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua)