Where Sen. Calderon is Concerned, Let the Chips Fall Where They May

Chips falling where they may

You want to investigate my Democratic Party? Fine — let the chips fall where they may. Just let whatever standards you set apply to all — and if you can’t do so yourself, let us find someone who can.

Scott Lay of Around the Capitol broke the story so far as I know, shortly before 6:00 this evening,:

I am hearing from multiple Capitol sources that the FBI has raided the Capitol office of Senator Ron Calderon’s (D-Montebello) . Senate sergeants are currently stationed outside of Calderon’s office. Visitors are simply being told that the office “is closed.”

An FBI raid does not imply guilt, and there is no indication what the investigation is about. The Capitol is abuzz right now that the investigation includes other members, although the subject is unclear.

A subsequent e-mail came about 90 minutes later:

The U.S. Attorney in Sacramento (Eastern District of California) has confirmed that it has executed search warrants in the Capitol. While there are rumors that two other offices have been searched, they are just rumors.

From what I have gotten from multiple sources, the two offices searched are those of Senator Ron Calderon (D-Montebello) and the Latino Caucus office in room 511 of the Legislative Office Building across the street from the Capitol at 1020 N Street.

The actions are reportedly in response to a Los Angeles case, and the search warrants are sealed.

Chris Nguyen at our friendly Republican rival, OCPolitical, has been doing some real reporting tonight:

In addition to raiding Calderon’s Capitol office, the FBI also raided the office of the California Latino Legislative Caucus, located in the Legislative Office Building, which is across street from the Capitol.  Calderon is a member of the Caucus, but the Chair is Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) and the Vice Chair is Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez (D-Coachella).  Lara told the LA Times he had “no idea” why the Caucus office was being raided.  Calderon and his staff have not responded to requests for comment from various media sources.

The two raids were executed based on an investigation by the United States Attorney for the Central District of California.  (The Central District of California consists of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties.)

Though the warrants are sealed, multiple media sources have reported this is part of a wider federal investigation into public corruption in Los Angeles County.

Today’s pair of raids are the first FBI raids in the State Capitol since the 1980s when the Shrimpscam investigation resulted in the conviction and imprisonment of Board of Equalization Member Paul Carpenter (D-Los Angeles), Senator Joseph Montoya (D-La Puente), Assemblyman Pat Nolan (R-Glendale), and Assemblyman Frank Hill (R-Whittier).

The LA Times itself suggests that this may have something to do with water agencies.  Go there for more than I’m going to quote.

While I cannot speak for the Democratic Party of Orange County, I’m entitled to my own opinion when asked to defend my party in such circumstances, and that opinion is this: “let the chips fall where they may.”

This is not my tossing Sen. Calderon, whose district includes most of OC’s Buena Park, under the bus.  I make no pretense of knowing whether there is any merit to any charges that may have led to investigation of him or others.  I’m happy not to prejudge — I’d prefer to let the process proceed fairly and naturally.

And, for anyone who wonders why I’m not “defending my party” in a time of need, here’s my answer: this is a defense of my party.  I want us to be seen — not only to be seen, but to be — as squeaky clean as we can be.  Let the dirty players go elsewhere.  We can’t get away with the abuses and torturing of the law that Republicans and conservatives (by my and most of the world’s definition, not Vern’s) generally do.

Too much power is arrayed against us.  The only way that we can avoid be smeared as dirty is to not do the crimes.  That of course is not enough to avoid heinous complaints — see the Darrell Issa, Geoff Willis, skallywag Fox news feed for proof of that — but it is the case that most heinous complaints by Republicans against Democrats, scandals that aren’t scandals at all, are by now tuned out.

All I ask is that they get investigated with the same fervor that we do — something that people who have been here longer than I are convinced generally does not happen in Orange County.  (That would take a longer review of the history of Tony Rackauckas’s D.A.’s office than I’m prepared to give — but it would be a good project someday, before the election of his successor next year.)  The Janet Nguyen CalOptima scandal (which you’re probably not hearing much about) is not likely to get much play — or serious investigation — in the county, despite the Grand Jury’s interest in this and other Supervisorial misbehavior.  If she were a Democrat, it would be continual front page news.

The front page (well, at least of some venues we know) is instead largely devoted to allegations against Democrats who apparently don’t deserve them.  Case in point: Irvine, before last year’s election, when the OC Weekly went bonkers trying to pin misdeeds involving the Great Park onto Larry Agran, Beth Krom, and their supporters.  More than half a year later, during which time the Republican-dominated City Council has had ample time to investigate, and we find … that the story isn’t in the news.  Having accomplished its political purpose, the scandal asserting legal misbehavior (which was in truth barely even alleged with any specificity) against the former Democratic majority has apparently dried up. No, they didn’t build as much of the park as they wanted to.  That’s not illegal.  Charges of illegal or immoral — I’m still not sure — coordination between the Agran and Daigle Mayoral campaigns [conflict of interest warning: Katherine Daigle now writes for this blog] have also apparently been dropped, once they had done their damage.

We seen plenty of smoke around Anaheim, where the pringling of the City seems to have achieved some heretofore unimagined high gear.  Investigations?  No sign of them.

Some Democrats — and I have to admit that they generally come from the “business friendly” faction that does largely include Sen. Calderon, many in that faction seem ethical — seem to have the belief that their “business-friendliness” will protect them from investigation.  Let this be a lesson to the contrary.

On the other hand, it might be pointed out, the semi-scandal of Tom Daly hiring Jordan Brandman for what sure looked like political purposes, following by the actual scandal of Daly having subcontracted a report that could have been done internally to Brandman — who proceed not to do the report competently or even at all until after it got into the news — that does seem to have blown over.  So maybe if one is business-friendly enough then a Democrat can get away with stuff.  It remains to be seen.

I’m done defending it though, not that I ever did.  I’ll defend political choices than I don’t agree with sometimes — such is the lot of the liberal supporter of the Obama Administration, where half a loaf seems to be better than one — but I won’t defend actual corruption such as payoffs.  For that, it’s “get the hell out of my party.”

Which is Sen. Ron Calderon accused of doing?  I don’t know.  I hope that it’s nothing and I won’t conclude prematurely that it’s anything other than that.  All I know is that, if there’s really something to it, I’m not going to defend it.  I’m going to point to it — and point out to my party how badly it makes us look — and how we, unlike our opponents who own the media — can’t afford it.  And if anyone is soliciting others in our party to engage in self-serving illegal behavior — well, I read some good advice about that last weekend.

Let the chips fall where they may.  And let whoever is responsible for their falling clean them up.

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)