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Ron Calderon, a Democrat and a member of a California political dynasty that goes back several decades, turned himself in to federal authorities to face two dozen counts of bribery, fraud, money laundering and conspiracy involving workers compensation legislation. He appeared in court Monday, handcuffed and shackled in his street clothes at a brief hearing at the US District Court in Los Angeles, where he was ordered freed on $50,000 bond after surrendering his passport and agreeing not to leave the United States. The 56-year-old lawmaker was also ordered to return to court in March.

The Los Angeles Times reports that a Calderon political dynasty has spanned three decades, based upon a family infused into the blue-collar neighborhoods east of Los Angeles where the Calderon surname has appeared on local ballots for two generations. The Calderons have flourished in the sometimes ruthless environs of the California Assembly and Senate, where four family members have served in the carpeted chambers: brothers Charles, Ronald and Tom, and Charles’ son. They’ve cut reputations for raising campaign cash and reigning over the Legislature’s powerful “juice committees,” those overseeing banking, insurance and other industries that have the cash to bankroll political campaigns. They use their political muscle to help one another, squeezing political opponents, pushing legislation backed by supporters and even orchestrating a brazen leadership coup attempt.

Federal officials remain mum on the focus of the investigation, but the inquiry appears to be as far-reaching as the family’s influence, and may involve more than the current indictment. FBI agents questioned officials from cities served by the Central Basin Municipal Water District, a regional water wholesaler in Los Angeles County that has paid Tom Calderon more than $750,000 in consulting fees since 2004. A Los Angeles County grand jury subpoenaed several lawmakers as part of the probe, including a former aide to Ronald Calderon. The federal investigation has done little to dampen the Calderons’ political aspirations.

Ronald Calderon, who will be termed out of the Senate next year, has opened campaign accounts to raise money for possible runs for state controller and an Assembly seat in the future. Tom Calderon maintains a fund to run for his brother’s Senate post. Ian Calderon is running for reelection in the Assembly; and his father, Charles, is collecting donations for a campaign for secretary of state. Until May, Tom Calderon controlled a political action committee whose biggest contributions came from large insurance companies. It paid for outings at golf resorts and for private plane travel, campaign finance reports show. Calderon family members have opened 54 political accounts since 1986 and have taken in at least $15 million in contributions since 2000. Slightly more than half a million dollars of the money in the family members’ political accounts was passed from brother to brother, father to son, uncle to nephew. An additional $463,000 went to pay the Calderon brothers, wives and children as staff during that time; $110,000 went to Tom Calderon and his firm, Calderon Group.

A related story by the Los Angeles Times last December claims that the funds also paid more than $1 million to golf resorts in Las Vegas, Hawaii and other locations; $220,000 on steak dinners, $4,000 for cigars and $325 for false eyelashes. The last item was reported as an “appreciation” gift from Charles Calderon to his sister-in-law, serving as a campaign consultant. Ronald Calderon’s political bounty has paid for high-priced stogies, VIP tickets to Las Vegas boxing matches and Lakers playoff games, his campaign filings show. It has also financed rounds of golf at Pebble Beach, skybox tickets to a Britney Spears concert and a $1,320 spa bill during his “Birthday Bash” fundraiser at the Grand Pacific Palisades Resort near San Diego.

Diversity PAC has raised $1.2 million from interests that lobby the Legislature. Donors included AT & T, cigarette maker Philip Morris USA, Sempra Energy, the Assn. of California Life and Health Insurance Companies, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), Eli Lilly and Co., Walgreens, Blue Shield and the payday loan firm Check Into Cash. Tom Calderon was the group’s founding principal officer, in 2005. He called it Latino PAC, and its mission was “to elect Latino candidates,” according to filings with the secretary of state. The fund later became Diversity PAC, and its purpose evolved into support for moderate Democrats, those involved said.

As part of its fundraising, the PAC took big donors by private jet and limousine to top-rated golf courses, including Pebble Beach, the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon and the American Club Resort in Wisconsin. Diversity PAC has paid more than $100,000 to Bandon Dunes over the years for fundraisers, not counting the cost of the flights. The PAC has spent $43,000 on fundraising events at the La Quinta Resort and Club near Palm Springs, which boasts on its website of having 41 pools, 23 tennis courts, seven restaurants and five golf courses.