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Senate Votes to Suspend Three Senators

March 28, 2014
Earlier this morning, the California State Senate voted to suspend three Democratic Senators accused of crimes ranging from political corruption to conspiracy to traffic firearms.
Upon the direction of Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), members approved a Senate Resolution 38 (Steinberg) stripping Senators Ron Calderon (D-Montebello), Rod Wright (D-Los Angeles) and Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) of their official powers effective immediately and prohibiting them from resuming office “until all criminal proceedings currently pending against them have been dismissed.” The resolution also maintains the salaries of all three Senators.

The most recent criminal charges were brought against Sen. Yee after an FBI investigation resulted in his arrest on charges of wire fraud and illegal gun trafficking. During a press conference earlier this week, Senate Pro Tem Steinberg called on Yee to “leave, don’t burden your colleagues and this great institution with your troubles, leave.”
Federal charges against Sen. Calderon were filed last month in a 24-count indictment accusing Calderon of political corruption activities related to bribery, fraud and money laundering. His brother, former Assembly Member Tom Calderon, was also named in the charges. According to reports, Sen. Calderon has denied any wrongdoing; his case is currently pending in federal court.   
Sen. Rod Wright was convicted on charges of voter fraud and perjury earlier this year. He is currently appealing the guilty verdict reached in his perjury case.    
In comments to media outlets, Senate Pro Tem Steinberg said he will hold off on final expulsion efforts. He also stated his intent to file a constitutional amendment next week that would allow the Legislature to suspend members and withhold their pay. Given that the legislative terms for both Sens. Calderon and Yee will expire at the end of this year, and Sen. Wright’s term in 2016, it is unclear how such a measure would apply in these circumstances.

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