SACRAMENTO (AP) — A key legislative body voted Tuesday to strip state Sen. Ron Calderon of his committee assignments amid a federal investigation involving allegations he accepted money in return for promoting certain bills.
The Senate Rules Committee voted unanimously to remove the Montebello Democrat from all committees and commissions. It’s believed to be the first time the committee has taken such action against a senator. No charges have been filed against Calderon, who denies wrongdoing.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said the committee was making no judgments about Calderon’s alleged conduct and that the actions were temporary, pending the outcome of the FBI investigation.
Rather, he said lawmakers were acting in the interest of the institution.
“Our job here is not to determine whether or not there has been any violation of criminal law,” said Steinberg, D-Sacramento. “Our job is to uphold the standard of conduct of the Senate.”
Tuesday’s actions come after Al Jazeera America reported that it had obtained a sealed FBI affidavit alleging Calderon accepted $88,000 in return for promoting bills.
Calderon issued a statement shortly after the vote saying he was “profoundly disappointed” in the action by the Rules Committee. His statement referenced the apparent leak of the affidavit, which remains under seal in federal court in Sacramento.
The FBI has said it is investigating the leak.
“While I am defending myself against false allegations and illegal acts committed by a federal agency, my commitment and resolve to continue providing the best legislative representation and the best services to my constituents remain firm. Removing me from my committee assignments sends a risky and unsuitable message regarding our fundamental constitutional rights and the Presumption of Innocence,” Calderon wrote in the statement, his most extensive comments to date on the matter.
“I have not been charged or convicted with any unjust doing, yet I am being treated by this committee and some media outlets as if I had.”
Tuesday’s 4-0 votes removed Calderon from the Senate Insurance Committee, which he chaired, and four other committees.
The Rules Committee also voted to terminate the Senate Select Committee on California’s Film and Television Industry. Calderon was chairman of the select committee, but it has not met since it was created earlier this year.
He previously was removed from the state film commission.
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