LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — When FBI agents raided the Sacramento offices of state Senator Ron Calderon in June, it was part of an FBI investigation in which agents posed as movie studio executives and allegedly paid about $60,000 in bribes to Calderon, Al Jazeera America reported Wednesday.
The Al Jazeera report was based on a 124-page federal affidavit in which authorities say Calderon drew up and promoted legislation that could have resulted in lucrative tax credits for the studio. The affidavit says a daughter of Calderon was paid $30,000 to work at the studio but never showed up for work.
The FBI affidavit says Calderon also accepted money to assist a spinal surgery business.
A spokesperson for the FBI told KCAL9 Political Reporter Dave Bryan the agency could neither confirm nor deny the Al Jazeera report.
To some, it sounds like a replay of the movie “Argo.”
Via Skype on Wednesday, Al Jazeera producer Trevor Aaronson told Bryan, “This is more than political corruption. This is political corruption posed in the shadows of Hollywood posing as independent movie producers. And in a way, it’s really funny. It comes less than a year after a movie that documented how the CIA used similar tactics to get Americans out of Iran.”
Bryan also called Calderon’s office. It had no comment on the report.
On Wednesday, Al Jazeera TV showed reporter Josh Bernstein confronting Calderon and seeking a comment about the allegations.
Said Bernstein to Calderon: “The FBI says you accepted tens of thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for supporting legislation.”
Calderon replied, “That’s … that’s … like I said, ‘I’m not going to answer anything right now.’”
Bernstein shot back, “You’re an elected official, in one of the largest states in the country. Don’t you think the public has a right to hear from you?”
“They hear from me all the time,” Calderon answered.
The affidavit obtained by Al Jazeera outlines conversations between Calderon and the undercover agent.
At one point, Calderon is quoted as saying: “Because of my position … we cannot have a quid pro quo conversation.” But Calderon would later ask for favors.
Calderon also is quoted as saying, “I told you man, anything you can do, any help you can do for my kids, is, you know…. That’s diamonds for me. That’s diamonds.”