Lashing back at federal officials and Senate colleagues, state Sen. Ron Calderon charged in a federal lawsuit filed last week that authorities leaked an FBI affidavit against him after Calderon refused to participate in a sting operation targeting Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Sen. Kevin de Leon. The filing in Sacramento federal court urges a judge to hold the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles in contempt, contending that last month’s release of a sealed FBI affidavit “has prejudiced any future grand jury proceeding and irreparably tainted any future court proceedings involving Senator Calderon.”
Calderon alleges in the complaint that he “was approached on six separate occasions by high level agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and on two occasions by the Assistant United States Attorney for the Central District of California Doug Miller demanding that Senator Calderon participate in a sting operation against Senate President pro Tern Darrel Steinberg. The FBI agents requested that Senator Calderon wear a wire and secretly record his conversations with Senator Steinberg and Senator Kevin de Leon. The FBI was specifically interested in Senator Steinberg’s financial activities with Michael Drobot, the former Chief Executive Officer of Pacific Hospital of Long Beach. Senator Calderon refused to continue participating in the FBI’s sting operation, and rejected their demands to secretly record conversations with Senator Steinberg and Senator de Leon. Senator Calderon, through the law office of Geragos and Geragos, APC, returned the wire equipment supplied by the FBI to the agents working for United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.”
According to an article published by McClatchy News, Steinberg said Calderon’s filing “is pure fantasy.” De Leon declined to comment. His office has previously said he has been told he is not a target of the investigation. Mark Geragos, Calderon’s lawyer, said Steinberg’s move prompted the latest legal action. Steinberg spokesman Rhys Williams said the Senate leader has been told he is not a subject of the investigation, Geragos said “we have indisputable proof that they were targeting Steinberg.” Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, declined to comment Wednesday evening.
Late last month, Al Jazeera America posted the FBI affidavit, which alleges that Calderon took $60,000 in bribes from an FBI agent posing as a film studio owner and $28,000 in bribes from Drobot. Drobot’s lawyer has called the allegations baseless. Calderon is quoted in that document as saying he was working with Steinberg on legislation to lower the threshold for film tax credits to $750,000 from $1 million. The affidavit also describes de Leon amending one workers’ compensation bill at Calderon’s request in a way that would have less impact on Drobot’s business at Pacific Hospital.
There have been calls for Calderon to resign by Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, and other officials in Calderon’s east Los Angeles County district. Calderon issued a statement slamming Garcia for “assuming the role of judge and jury,” adding that his current problems could befall “anyone in public office.”