FBI Raids Sacramento Office Of Senator Ron Calderon: Why Is Calif. State Legislator ‘Focus Of Investigation?’

By Philip Ross on June 5, 2013 12:24 PM EDT

fbi-raid-ron-calderon
Sen. Ron Calderon, second from left, stands with other California elected officials as California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signs a bill into law in Sacramento in March 2007. An FBI raid on Calderon’s office on Tuesday raises questions about the state legislator’s involvement in government scandal. (Photo: Reuters)

Scandal and rumors rock California's seat of power after Tuesday's FBI raid on the Sacramento office of state senator Ron Calderon as well as the Latino Legislative Caucus. According to the Los Angeles Times, Calderon, who was elected to the state Senate in 2006, is the "focus of the investigation."

The FBI raid on the 55-year-old senator's office has prompted speculation about the legislator's involvement in government corruption. At this point, authorities are mum on the investigation and have not provided any further details about the matter, including exactly what it is they are looking for, although law enforcement sources told the Los Angeles Times that the raids were part of a corruption investigation in Los Angeles County.

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"This afternoon, agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation served search warrants in the State Capitol at the office of Sen. Ron Calderon and in the Legislative Office Building at the Latino Legislative Caucus office," Tony Beard, chief sergeant at arms for the California Senate, said in a statement.

According to an FBI spokeswoman for the FBI office in Los Angeles, the FBI served their search warrants around 3 p.m. local time on Tuesday, and agents stayed in the state Capitol building into the evening. During the time of the FBI raid on Calderon's office, members of the California Latino Legislative Caucus, a 23-member Latino lobbying group chaired by Senator Ricardo Lara and Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez, held an event with reporters at the Capitol building to talk about the caucus's legislative priorities. Calderon is one of the group's acting legislators.

Calderon, a Democrat, represents the city of Montebello, a city in Los Angeles County, Calif., in the southwestern San Gabriel Valley. He was not present during Tuesday's FBI raid. The state senator is part of a political empire with roots that go back 30 years; a member of Calderon's family has held a seat in California's state legislature every year since 1983.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Calderon and his two politically active brothers, former Assemblyman Tom Calderon and Assemblyman Charles Calderon, helped finance a recall effort in 2008 against two City of Commerce council members who criticized the relationship between the state legislators and the Central Basin Municipal Water District, who awarded millions of dollars in contracts to politicians and organizations. In an article from 2011, the paper pointed out that Ron Calderon upset an audit of Central Basin's books. The water district even paid Tom Calderon more than $750,000 in "consulting fees," according to the Times.

Also in 2006, Calderon spent thousands of dollars from a defense account fund, set up to cover costs stemming from an election vote recount, on golf outings and a private airplane service. He was handed a warning from California's Fair Political Practices Commission, but was never penalized.  

Calderon's attorney Marg Geragos, who also represented Michael Jackson, among other celebrities, said Tuesday's FBI raid on the senator's office is unjustified.

"The only one so far who has done anything improper is the government," Geragos told the Los Angeles Times. "The government is out of control and we are going to take the appropriate action to hold them accountable. They should be ashamed of themselves."

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