On Friday, Calfornia State Senator Ron Calderon (D-Montebello) was indicted on federal corruption charges. This comes after the FBI raided the office of California state Senator Calderon last June, making him the focus of a corruption investigation.
Sen. Calderon is the second of his brothers to serve in the state senate and the third to hold a seat in the legislature. His brother, Tom Calderon, is a former assemblyman, who is now a political consultant was also indicted on Friday on counts of money laundering. His other brother, Charles Calderon, is a former assemblyman and state senator and also the father of current Assemblyman Ian Calderon.
The Calderon family has represented and currently represents areas of Los Angeles County referred to as the Southeast cities, which have large working class Latino populations. The Calderons are considered one of the most politically influential Latino families in California. By capitalizing on name recognition, a Calderon has managed to be in the state legislature for over 30 years.
“According to the indictment, Ron Calderon, D-Montebello (Los Angeles County), “would perform official acts favorable to the individuals paying him bribes and kickbacks, including introducing and supporting legislation on their behalf, and seeking the support of other public officials and their staff for such legislation.”
U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr. said the senator received about $100,000 in bribes as well as lavish trips on chartered planes, gourmet dinners and expensive golf outings in exchange for pushing legislation through the Capitol. Ron Calderon is also accused of soliciting a $5,000 payment for his son’s tuition from an undercover FBI agent, who posed as a film studio executive seeking political favors.
Hours after the charges were announced, state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, called on Ron Calderon to resign.
“It is in the best interests of the people and the Senate if he resigns. I call on him to do so. … At a minimum, he should take a complete leave of absence until the criminal proceedings are finished. If he does not resign, or take that leave of absence voluntarily, the Senate will seek to suspend him.”
The Calderon case began as FBI agents investigated Michael Drobot, the former owner of Pacific Hospital, a Long Beach facility that is a major provider of spinal surgeries paid for by workers’ compensation programs. Birotte said Drobot allegedly bribed Ron Calderon to preserve a law that allowed Drobot to be overcompensated for spinal surgeries through a fraud scheme.
According to investigators, Ron Calderon had Drobot hire his son for 15 days of work each summer for three years at $10,000 per year at one or more of Drobot’s companies – to help his son raise tuition money.”
People are going to be watching closely what happens to Sen. Calderon and his brother with the legal proceedings. This scandal could have implications for the Democratic super majority in the California state legislature because the Calderons are Democrats. Additionally, there could be implications for Latino leadership in Los Angeles County’s Southeast region, which has been plagued with similar corruption scandals at the municipal level.