California lawmaker says he was asked to wear wire
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Embattled state Sen. Ron Calderon says federal authorities wanted him to wear a wire and record conversations with the Senate leader and another lawmaker, and after he refused they tried to ruin his reputation by raiding his offices and leaking an FBI affidavit alleging he took money in return for promoting certain bills.
Calderon, who has not been charged and has denied any wrongdoing, made the allegations in a complaint filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Sacramento. The Democrat from the Los Angeles-area city of Montebello asked a judge to hold federal investigators and prosecutors in contempt for leaking the sealed affidavit, which was written to support a search warrant for Calderon's Sacramento offices.
The filing includes a copy of a receipt for a wireless transmitter on the letterhead of Calderon's lawyer, Mark Geragos.
Calderon's complaint said the senator was approached six times by FBI agents and twice by Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Miller demanding that he "participate in a sting operation" against Senate President Pro Tem Darrel Steinberg and Sen. Kevin de Leon and "secretly record conversations" with them.
"The FBI affidavit omitted facts that just days before the affidavit was prepared, the FBI was attempting to use Senator Calderon as an informant against Senators Steinberg and de Leon," the complaint alleged.
Steinberg, D-Sacramento, called the court filing "pure fantasy." He said in a statement that Calderon is lashing out after Steinberg him stripped of his committee assignments earlier this week.
De Leon, D-Los Angeles, responded that federal prosecutors have said in writing that he is not a target of any investigation. The Nov. 1 letter signed by Miller, the lead prosecutor in the investigation, "speaks for itself," de Leon spokeswoman Claire Conlon said.
Spokespeople for the FBI in Sacramento and Los Angeles, and for the U.S. attorney's offices in Sacramento and Los Angeles, all declined to comment.
"It would be inappropriate to comment on pending litigation," said Laura Eimiller, an FBI spokeswoman in Los Angeles, where the investigation originated.
The affidavit was leaked to Al Jazeera America, which reported on it two weeks ago and did not disclose how it was obtained. Leaking a sealed affidavit is a crime, and federal authorities are investigating.
The affidavit alleges Calderon accepted $28,000 from a Long Beach hospital executive to promote favorable legislation for the executive's institution. It also claims Calderon took $60,000 from an undercover FBI agent posing as the owner of a Los Angeles movie company in return for the senator's promotion of a bill expanding tax credits for the film industry.
The document includes an alleged conversation between Calderon and an undercover FBI agent in which the senator says his relationship with Steinberg was responsible for the Senate leader supporting the effort to lower the threshold for film industry tax credits, though the bill ultimately failed.
Steinberg has dismissed the account as "braggadocio" as Calderon was trying to impress the agent.
No one has been charged in the investigation.