California Senator Says FBI Leaked Affidavit to Retaliate

November 15, 2013

California State Senator Ron Calderon said the Federal Bureau of Investigation leaked a sealed affidavit alleging he took $60,000 in bribes to retaliate for his refusal to participate in a sting operation.

Calderon filed a request Thursday to hold the U.S. government in contempt for violating a magistrate judge’s order sealing the FBI affidavit, which had been submitted in support of a request to search the senator’s office, in federal court in Sacramento.

It’s clear that the FBI and, or, the federal prosecutor directing the FBI “engaged in a campaign to smear the reputation of Senator Calderon and convict him in the press and public before a grand jury was assembled and while it was hearing evidence,” the senator said in the request filed in Sacramento federal court.

Al Jazeera America published an article on Oct. 30 that contained a downloadable copy of the affidavit, according to the senator’s filing. The affidavit alleges Calderon took $60,000 in bribes from an undercover FBI agent in exchange for his support of legislation related to tax credits for independent filmmakers and hiring the undercover agent’s purported girlfriend. The article also reported Calderon accepted bribes from a hospital executive in Southern California who ran an alleged workers’ compensation scheme.

Wireless Transmitter

Calderon, who represents a district southeast of downtown Los Angeles, said the FBI retaliated because he declined to wear a wireless transmitter to record his conversations with two other Democratic state senators, Darrel Steinberg and Kevin de Leon. The sting operation was directed against Steinberg, according to Calderon’s filing.

“The assertions made about me in this court filing are beyond the pale,” Steinberg said in an e-mailed statement. “I am not a target of this investigation. I am not a subject of this investigation.”

Steinberg, the senate president pro-tem, temporarily stripped Calderon of his chairmanship of the Senate Insurance Committee this week, according to his e-mail.

Calderon’s lawyer has said yesterday’s filing was motivated by that action, according to Steinberg’s statement.

Mark Geragos, Calderon’s lawyer, didn’t immediately respond to phone and e-mail messages seeking comment on the case.

California Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, a Bell Gardens Democrat, and other elected officials in Calderon’s district have publicly urged him to resign.

De Leon’s Assistance

“The U.S. Attorney’s office asked me to assist their investigation as a witness and I have done so per the letter released from the U.S. Attorney’s office, which also made clear that I am neither a subject or target of the investigation,” de Leon said in an e-mail. “There is nothing more important than protecting the integrity of our governing process.”

Calderon’s filing includes what he says is the FBI’s acknowledgment they received the transmitter back from his lawyer.

On June 4, the media was alerted to the FBI’s search of Calderon’s office, which became a “media spectacle,” the senator said. The affidavit for the search warrant, which was leaked to the press, included numerous false and defamatory allegations, the senator said.

Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles, which Calderon said is overseeing the investigation, and Laura Eimiller, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Los Angeles, declined to comment the senator’s allegations.

The case is Calderon v. U.S., 13-02358, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California (Sacramento.)

With assistance from James Nash in Los Angeles. Editors: Fred Strasser, Michael Hytha

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