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Sen. Ron Calderon has agreed to take an indefinite leave of absence from the Senate, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg announced on Sunday.

Under the cloud of an FBI investigation, Calderon's presence in the Senate has been a source of controversy for months. Before a grand jury indicted Calderon on 24 felony counts last week, the Montebello Democrat had already surrendered his committee assignments.

Now he will exit the Senate for the foreseeable future. After Calderon's arraignment last Friday, Steinberg gave Calderon a week to resign, take a leave of absence or face an expulsion vote.

In a statement, Calderon stressed that he has not been convicted. He pleaded not guilty last week to a litany of charges that he had influenced legislation in exchange for bribes.

"This is not a resignation since I still have my day in court," Calderon said in a statement. "However, due to the nature and complexity of the charges, and the discovery materials that I will have to review, I expect this to be a lengthy period of absence continuing until the end of the session in August."

While he will not be eligible for the $163-a-day per diem payments lawmakers draw, Calderon will continue to receive a full salary.

Calderon will be the second Democratic senator in a matter of days to go on leave from the Senate amid legal troubles. Sen. Rod Wright, D-Inglewood, who has been convicted of eight felony counts stemming from lying about his residence, announced he would step away earlier this week.

With Calderon's departure, Democrats have fallen below the two-thirds majority that had allowed them to pass new taxes, move measures to the ballot and enact "urgency" bills without Republican assent.


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