Capitol Alert: How did media get the FBI's court-sealed Calderon papers?

jortiz@sacbee.comOctober 31, 2013 

Among the many unanswered questions in the developing Ron Calderon corruption investigation: Just how did the media get hold of a FBI affidavit that lays out the details of the case?

James J. Wedick, a former FBI special agent who led another Capitol uncover sting in the 1990s, attributed it to carelessness.

"I find it hard to believe that an FBI agent would give someone that document," said Wedick, who lives in Gold River and was a source for the Calderon story that Al Jazeera America broke on Wednesday.

The 124-page document was filed with the court under seal to obtain a search warrant for the raid on Calderon's offices in June. But the Qatar-based news network published a redacted version online. (Capitol Alert has it posted here.) It's a treasure trove of detailed allegations that the Democratic state senator from Montebello sold his position and influence for money and favors.

But it probably wasn't leaked, Wedick said. More likely, a copy was accidentally left were someone found it.

"I guess you could say it's possible the document was leaked," he said. "but I would doubt that somebody would purposely take that document and release it."

Wedick recalled that when he headed up the "shrimpgate" undercover sting in the late 1980s that snagged 12 public officials using a phony shrimp business to expose corruption, that he carefully guarded his investigative documents. Wedick routinely summarized reports and parceled out pages, he said, with only information his agents needed for their particular part of the probe.

"I never thought that anyone would leak the documents," he said, "but I worried they might accidentally leave them somewhere,"

Nancy Savage, executive director of the Virginia-based Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI agreed, noted that federal law makes leaking an FBI affidavit a felony.

But if the document wasn't leaked, why was it redacted?

"Al Jazeera's lawyers did that," Wedick said, out of concern that leaving certain portions untouched would leave the network open to a lawsuit.

The FBI has not commented on the leak or whether there will be an investigation.

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