SACRAMENTO — An embattled state senator says he hopes to work with his fellow lawmakers as the Legislature reconvenes Monday, despite an ongoing federal investigation and a bitter finger-pointing exchange with Senate leaders.
No charges have been filed against Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, who denies wrongdoing.
Calderon said he is eager to join his colleagues, although there are signs they might not be so happy to see him.
FBI agents raided Calderon’s Sacramento offices in June, and an FBI affidavit leaked in October alleges that he accepted nearly $90,000 from an undercover FBI agent and a Long Beach hospital executive in efforts to influence legislation.
His assigned seat in the Senate chambers has been moved from front-and-center to a far corner, next to a vacant desk. He also has been stripped of all committee assignments while the investigation continues.
“I am looking forward to working collaboratively on the important legislative issues facing our state and to continue addressing the needs of the people who elected me to represent them in the State Senate,” he said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press.
Despite the loss of most of his duties, Calderon said he and his staff “remain committed to providing excellent legislative and constituent services.”
When the Senate convened in the afternoon, Calderon entered the chamber several minutes late, drawing attention as Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg was welcoming lawmakers back for the new year.
He shook hands with fellow Democrats Lou Correa, of Anaheim, and Mark Leno, of San Francisco, as he made his way across the front of the chamber to his seat, where he sipped from a plastic water bottle. Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, came over to Calderon’s desk to shake hands, while Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, exchanged hugs.
Calderon then settled into his desk, at somewhat of a distance from other lawmakers. His spokesman, Mario Beltran, said he had no comment on the senator’s new seat assignment.
Rhys Williams, a spokesman for Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said Calderon was moved “for the effective management of the house.”
Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles, said Monday that he could not comment on the status of the investigation.
In his own court filing in November, Calderon said he was asked to wear a recording device in a failed attempt to implicate Steinberg and Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, a top candidate to replace Steinberg this year as Senate leader.
Both have denied doing anything wrong and said federal prosecutors have notified them that they are not targets of the investigation.
In addition to being stripped of his committee assignments in November, Calderon was removed from the California Film Commission and from the executive board of the California Latino Legislative Caucus.