Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Calderon: Calif. Ethics Committee hires outside counsel to look into FBI investigation

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The California State Senate Ethics Committee has hired an outside attorney to help dig through the details of a federal investigation into State Sen. Ron Calderon. 

Charles J. Stevens of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher will join committee members to examine a leaked FBI affidavit that appeared to show the Montebello-based lawmaker accepting $88,000 in bribes in exchange for specific legislation. Calderon has denied any wrongdoing. 

"I have retained an independent counsel with expertise in federal public corruption investigations to review the facts and make recommendations to the Senate Legislative Ethics Committee on the appropriate course of action moving forward," said Sen. Richard Roth, chair of the Ethics Committee. 

"I view the appointment of independent counsel as an important first step to restoring the public’s trust," he said.

The FBI raided Calderon's Sacramento office last June. At the time, it was unclear just what federal authorities were looking for. However, the leaked affidavit detailed an elaborate sting operation that involved an undercover agent posing as a movie studio executive. That agent cultivated a relationship with Calderon in order to exchange bribes for favorable legislation. The affidavit also alleged Calderon took bribes from a Long Beach-based hospital executive. 

The document also showed a $25,000 donation froma Latino Legislative Caucus political action committee, Yes We Can, to Californians for Diversity, a nonprofit operated by Tom Calderon, the senator's brother. According to the document, the payment was made to ensure Ron Calderon would not run for chair of the caucus. 

The Fair Political Practices Commission is looking into the donation. Meanwhile, the Latino Caucus ended 2013 by shutting down that particular PAC. 

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