Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Feds subpoenaed records from Commerce-based water district after FBI raided Calderon's office

State Senator Ron Calderon helped open the Central Basin Municipal Water District's new headquarters in 2008.

Federal authorities subpoenaed records from the Central Basin Municipal Water District in Commerce just days after the office of state Senator Ron Calderon was raided by FBI agents, the president of the water district board confirmed Friday. 

The U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment on the subpoenas. Calderon's brother, Tom, reportedly received hundreds of thousands of dollars in consultant fees from the water district over the past decade. Together, Ron and Tom Calderon donated more than $36,000 to water district board candidates over a five-year period, according to campaign finance reports reviewed by KPCC.

Related: State Sen. Ron Calderon and his brother have ties to local water district

Water district board member James Roybal confirmed the subpoenas. He was elected to the board last year and has led a reform effort that included terminating Tom Calderon's contract earlier this year.

Ron Calderon has been accused of pushing legislation that would benefit the water district. In one case, Rep. Grace Napolitano accused him of blocking a fiscal audit of the water district. 

Earlier this year, federal agents interviewed Michael Franchek, whose company had bid on a $1 million contract with the district in 2009. After a committee agreed to award the contract to Franchek's firm, the board switched gears and awarded the bid to Steelworkers Oldtimers Foundation, a nonprofit overseen by Tom Calderon. 

"This was clearly a case of political cronyism," Franchek said.

According to Franchek, the federal agents had questions about the water district's contracting practices. 

An attorney and spokesman for the Central Basin Municipal Water District declined to comment further. An attorney for Tom Calderon similarly declined to speak when asked whether his client had been contacted by federal authorities. 

Speaking to reporters earlier this week, Ron Calderon said he was anxious to return to work. 

"It’s been very stressful and very hard on all of us. We’re all anxious to put this behind us and to carry on normal life," he said.

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