Update 11:59 a.m.: Latino Caucus office wasn't searched by FBI
Officials with the California state Legislature previously said that the offices of the Latino Caucus were searched by the FBI Tuesday, along with state Sen. Ron Calderon's office, but state Senate Chief Sergeant-at-Arms Tony Beard issued a statement Wednesday saying that both offices searched belong to Calderon.
Calderon’s second office is in the state-owned Legislative Office Building, across the street from his other office in the State Capitol. Many legislators have second offices in the Legislative Office Building.
Beard said in a statement that the reason one of the offices was mistakenly identified as belonging to the Latino Caucus was due to an outdated room number roster — the Caucus moved into new offices earlier this year, according to Beard.
"This correction illustrates the limited information available to the Legislature," Beard said in the statement. "We have and will continue to fully cooperate with the agents."
The Latino Caucus issued their own statement saying that their offices were not searched. They added, "In any event, the Latino Legislative Caucus stands ready to assist the Justice Department in whatever way it can to bring this matter to a speedy resolution."
Read the sergeant-at-arms' statement below:
— Mike Roe with Julie Small
Update 10:41 a.m.: Calderon accepted $40,000 in lobbyist gifts since 2000
California state Sen. Ron Calderon, whose office was raided Tuesday by the FBI, has taken approximately $40,000 in gifts from lobbyists since 2000, the Sacramento Bee reports. That's more than double what any other legislator took in that time, according to the Bee, which reviewed lobbyist disclosure reports.
Those gifts include $6,000 for golf outings, tickets and equipment, according to the Bee, while his wife took $6,000 in gifts and chief deputy Rocky Rushing took $5,000 in gifts.
According to the Bee, Calderon has previously said that any gifts he receives do not affect the way he votes in the state Legislature. It's also legal for legislators to accept gifts, as long as they're within legal limits.
In a chart put together by the Bee showing all of the gifts Calderon received worth more than $100, the largest gift he received was $1,460 in accommodations from the California Correctional Peace Officers Association. Others who gave gifts worth over $500 include the Association Of California Life & Health Insurance, the California Independent Petroleum Association and Applied Materials, Inc., which manufactures semiconductors, flat-screen displays and solar photovoltaic products.
— Mike Roe
Previously: The FBI searched the offices of a California state senator and the Legislature's Latino caucus on Tuesday but would not disclose the reason for the investigation.
Laura Eimiller, a spokeswoman for the FBI office in Los Angeles, said the warrants were served at about 3 p.m. Six to eight agents left the Capitol more than six hours later around 9:30 p.m. carrying at least a half-dozen boxes, stuffed black bags and what appeared to be a computer hard drive.
She would not disclose the target of the search warrants, but Senate Chief Sergeant-at-Arms Tony Beard told The Associated Press it was Sen. Ron Calderon, 55, a Democrat from the Los Angeles County city of Montebello who represents eastern Los Angeles County, including Whittier, Bell and parts of Los Angeles. Calderon is also a member of the Latino caucus, and was vice chair of that caucus last year.
Chart: 2010 Census demographics of State Senate District 30
Source: California State Legislature | Census, 2010 SF 1
"It's a federal search warrant served on Sen. Calderon's office. It's a sealed search warrant. I don't know what it relates to," Beard said.
He said Calderon was not present during the search.
Beard said the Senate “has and will fully cooperate” with the FBI.
Calderon did not return a message left on his cellphone. His spokesman, Rocky Rushing, said he could not comment and referred calls to Los Angeles attorney Mark Geragos, who’s represented clients including Michael Jackson, Scott Peterson and former Congressman Gary Condit.
"I have a sense that they're on a witch hunt," Geragos said in a telephone interview. "My client refused to read their script and so this is what resulted....My client has done absolutely nothing wrong."
He said he does not know what the FBI is investigating or if others also are targets of the investigation.
He contended the Justice Department is targeting his client, a Democrat, as "a bait and switch" to mute congressional Republicans' outcry over recent disclosures, including that the department obtained telephone records from AP reporters and editors and private emails from a Fox News correspondent.
"The U.S. attorney's office should be ashamed of themselves," Geragos told the Sacramento Bee. "They have no case, so what they do is they leak the sealed information in an effort to hassle innocent people, and that's all the comment I have."
Beard told reporters who gathered outside Calderon's office Tuesday night that the office of the Latino Legislative Caucus, which is across the street from the Capitol in the Legislative Office Building, also was searched. A spokeswoman for the caucus, Lizette Mata, did not return telephone and email messages.
Sacramento defense attorney William Portanova entered and left the Capitol office during the search. He told the AP he was retained to represent the interests of the Senate as a whole, not any particular lawmaker.
"They're 100 percent cooperative with any investigation," Portanova said late Tuesday.
The warrants were being served as lawmakers who are part of the 23-member Latino caucus held an event with reporters at the Capitol to discuss the group's legislative priorities. The caucus includes many influential Latino members who serve on powerful committees. Members say the purpose of the caucus is to promote the rights and welfare of working-class Californians.
The FBI last raided offices at the State Capitol 25 years ago as part of the so-called "Shrimpscam" investigation. The media dubbed it “Shrimpscam” because agents posed as representatives of a shrimp processing company as part of a two-year long sting operation. Investigators acted as businessmen and offered bribes to politicians suspected of corruption.
Beard held the same position in 1988, when FBI agents searched the offices of four lawmakers.
“It involved the subsequent arrest of members as well as staffs and convictions and people went to prison," he said.
The investigation sent three state lawmakers to prison. As for the bills spawned by the bribes, several made it all the way to Gov. George Deukmejian’s desk. But the governor was tipped off in advance and vetoed the legislation
Eimiller said the current investigation is being led by federal authorities in Southern California, where Calderon is based, but the search warrants were issued in U.S. District Court in Sacramento and are under seal.
She said the search was conducted to seek evidence as it investigates "allegations of criminal activity."
"This is an ongoing investigation," she said. "Searches are typically done in the early stages of an investigation, so it would be premature to say that charges will be filed."
In 2009, the state's political watchdog agency, the Fair Political Practices Commission, closed an investigation into Calderon's three Assembly campaign committees without sanctions.
The commission opened an investigation after receiving allegations that Calderon had used campaign money for personal purposes while seeking re-election to the Assembly in 2003 and 2004, according to agency records. A letter to Calderon said the agency found nothing on its face to show the expenses were made for "anything other than a political, legislative or governmental purpose."
Calderon terminated his legal defense fund in 2009.
The lawmaker is part of a powerful Southern California political dynasty. His two brothers served in the state Legislature, the first beginning in 1982, and Ron Calderon's nephew, Ian Calderon, was elected to the Assembly last year. Older brother Charles was Assembly Majority Leader until being termed out last year.
Ron Calderon is known as a moderate, business-friendly Democrat. After his election to the Assembly in 2002, he was a member of the Assembly Moderate Caucus. He was elected to the state Senate in 2006.
Calderon played a key role last year in brokering an agreement that led to new state laws governing foreclosures that went beyond the national mortgage settlement with the nation's five largest banks.
He originally balked at proposals by Attorney General Kamala Harris that he thought would do too much harm to the lending industry. He then cast a key vote in an unusual conference committee that led to the compromise legislation becoming law. He heads the state Senate insurance committee, which many insurance company lobbyists have watched closely with insurance being a major industry in California.
He also has promoted regulatory reform and Hollywood tax credits, among legislative initiatives reflecting his business-oriented interests. Among other legislation this year, Calderon is carrying a bill that would require education officials to create lesson plans about violence in American culture as a way to respond to mass shootings.
Calderon also drew mention last year in an Associated Press story about lawmakers who sought upgrades to their state-provided vehicles shortly before buying them for personal use.
He special-ordered "2 vogue type wheel center caps" for $80 for his 2006 Cadillac, among other maintenance that cost taxpayers more than $500. Rushing, Calderon's spokesman, said at the time that the spending was all for necessary or scheduled maintenance.
Calderon flirted with running for Congress in 2012 against Linda Sanchez, but did not end up running.
The raid was also reminiscent of when former state Senate President pro tempore Don Perata's home was raided, along with the home of his son, but no charges were filed.
This story has been updated.