The Buzz: As California lawmakers convene for 2014, trial against Sen. Rod Wright set to begin

January 2, 2014 

A trial for Sen. Rod Wright, D-Inglewood, begins today. A grand jury alleged that he did not live in the district he sought to represent when he ran for the Senate in 2008.

HECTOR AMEZCUA — hamezcua@sacbee.com

  • Campaign watch

    Former state Sen. Dean Florez has closed his 2014 campaign committee for state controller and paid off a $60,000 fine for misusing campaign funds, the largest such penalty in state history. California law allows politicians to tap donations to pay ethics fines, but Florez paid $50,500 out of his own pocket. Florez admitted spending $26,542 from committees he established to run for higher office on trips, meals and entertainment. He also failed to refund $247,000 in contributions.

    – Jim Miller

Sen. Rod Wright perjury trial set to begin today

It’s been more than four years since the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office started looking into where Sen. Rod Wright, D-Inglewood, really hangs his hat.

It’s been more than three years since a grand jury indicted him, alleging that he did not live in the district he sought to represent when he first ran for the Senate in 2008. (He has since been re-elected).

Today – days before lawmakers reconvene – the trial against Wright for alleged voter fraud and perjury begins in Los Angeles.

State law allows legislators to own many residences, but only one can be a domicile, the address they swear is their home on state voter records. The law presumes that lawmakers are telling the truth about their sole domicile, but facts underlying their declaration must be accurate at the time they run for office.

Wright faces possible prison time if he is convicted and has pleaded not guilty. “He’s complied with all the residency requirements as required by law,” Wright’s lawyer, Kevin Winston McKesson, said Monday. “We’re disputing everything they say.”

“He has multiple places that he owns, which the code allows.”

– Laurel Rosenhall

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