Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, has asked the Senate Rules Committee to strip besieged Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, of his committee assignments, including Calderon’s chairmanship of the Senate Insurance Committee.
Fresh revelations of a federal investigation into Calderon surfaced last week with the publication of an affidavit, obtained by Al Jazeera America, charging that Calderon accepted bribes from a hospital owner and an undercover FBI agent posing as a film executive seeking legislation that would favor their separate businesses.
Steinberg reacted by removing Calderon from the California Film Commission. When asked during a news conference last week whether Calderon should continue to hold public office, Steinberg replied, “I certainly have my doubts.”
Those doubts about Calderon’s fitness have apparently solidified into the certainty that the Montebello Democrat should not be allowed to lead the Insurance Committee, at least until the federal investigation is concluded. Steinberg announced Wednesday that he was asking the Senate Rules Committee to nix Calderon’s Insurance Committee chairmanship and remove him from his other committee assignments.
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“I do not make this request lightly, nor do I judge the truth of the publicly reported allegations,” Steinberg said in a statement accompanying the announcement. “I am concerned, however, about keeping Senator Calderon in his positions. The allegations, though yet unproven, are serious enough to cloud any interactions the senator might have with colleagues, advocates and the public on issues within his jurisdiction.”
The Rules Committee is scheduled to consider Steinberg’s request at a meeting Tuesday. Since Steinberg oversees that committee, the decision to remove Calderon’s committee assignments is likely a foregone conclusion.
As a result, Calderon would be unable to vote on bills as they advance through committees but would still be able to cast votes on the Senate floor. That would remain in effect for the duration of the federal probe, and a spokesman for Steinberg said it was unclear what timeline federal investigators were using.
Through a spokesman, Calderon declined to comment.
“Senator Calderon has no comment on that matter at this moment,” said Mario Beltran, Calderon’s communications director.
In addition to chairing the Insurance Committee, Calderon currently serves on the standing committees on Banking and Financial Institutions, Environmental Quality and Governmental Organization.
Steinberg will also seek to dissolve the Senate Select Committee on California’s Film and Television Industry, which Calderon chairs and which has yet to hold a hearing.