The Buzz: Campaigns have funded holiday gifts between Calderon brothers

June 12, 2013 

3W12BUZZ

Charles and Ron Calderon have drawn on their campaign accounts to give each other holiday gifts. The FPPC said the gifts were legal.

LEILANI HU — Bee file, 1999

Christmas presents don't typically show up on California state disclosure forms, but they do when brothers exchange gifts using campaign funds.

Such is the case with Sen. Ron Calderon, the subject of an FBI investigation, and his brother Charles Calderon, a former state legislator.

On Christmas Day in 2010, Charles Calderon's campaign account for his Assembly run that year gave Ron Calderon a $420 "holiday gift," according to his statement of economic interests. The price tag happens to have been the state's limit on gifts to legislators that year. This year, it is $440.

On Christmas Eve in 2009, Charles Calderon's campaign for the Assembly gave Ron Calderon a $400 "holiday gift card." That gift came three days after Ron Calderon's Senate campaign account gave then-Assemblyman Charles Calderon a $182.70 pair of shoes for a golf event.

Campaign finance laws exempt gifts among family members from having to be reported by lawmakers – unless campaign funds are used.

"We looked into the gifts between the two brothers," said Gary Winuk of the Fair Political Practices Commission. "Their claim was that the gift was to improve legislative relations between brothers, which meets the technical legal standard."

– Melody Gutierrez

BILL WATCH

Add proper disposal of tattered American flags to the issues Sen. Ron Calderon is tackling this year. Burning is the most common method, and veterans groups often burn them outdoors, prompting environmental concerns. His Senate Bill 119, which an Assembly policy committee approved Tuesday, would let crematories burn flags if it's done in accordance with federal law.

– Micaela Massimino

WORTH REPEATING

"Nothing drains the blood out of someone's face like receiving a federal subpoena."

WILLIAM PORTANOVA, a Sacramento attorney who advises the California Senate on legal matters, including the recent raid on Democratic Sen. Ron Calderon's office

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