Letter from California: Bad things come in threes?

California state Sen. Leland Yee (D)

Have you heard the saying that “bad things come in threes?” Apparently, this year, three California Democratic politicians are all too familiar with that saying because it would appear that they have hit the proverbial rock bottom in their political careers due to alleged wrongdoing.


Most recently, California state Sen. Rod Wright, was convicted on felony perjury and voting fraud charges, when he attempted to claim that he was living with a woman he calls his stepmother, in a rental complex he owns in Inglewood so that he could run for that district’s state Senate seat in 2008.

Wright was actually “domiciled” in Baldwin Hills which is outside of the Inglewood district and where Wright’s residence is located.

Wright claimed, however, that he rented a bedroom in the Inglewood district. Prosecutors presented evidence otherwise and showed that Wright had only moved several of his belongs to the apartment while actually spending most of his time at his Baldwin Hills address.

Issues of residency seem to plague the Democrats this year, both inside and outside of California.

Currently, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) is being challenged by GOP state Rep. Paul Hollis, who said Landrieu is disqualified from representing the people of Louisiana because she lives full-time in her $2.5 million home in the District of Columbia.

While there are no criminal charges pending against Landrieu for the legal challenges to her residency status, Wright was not so fortunate.

Wright was convicted on felony perjury charges and was sentenced earlier this month to 90 days in county jail and has been banned for life from holding public office.

Additionally, Wright was sentenced to three years’ probation and 1,500 hours of community service. He will also be required to pay $2,000 in restitution.


Wright said he did not tried to defraud the voters.

But Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy, who presided over the case, said Wright’s argument is not wo5rk for her. “It didn’t pass the smell test and it doesn’t now.”

Kennedy said there was an “arrogance” in Wright’s actions in trying to skirt the law.

Wright assumed that the law does not apply to him, but it does, along with everyone else, the judge said.

The next California Democrat to fall from grace, was state  Sen. Leland Yee, who represented half of the voters in San Francisco and most of the voters in San Mateo County.

Yee had been running for secretary of state when he was arrested, following a five-year-federal investigation that targeted a notorious Chinatown gangster, Raymond Chow.

Yee, an outspoken gun control advocate, was arrested on charges of conspiring to traffic in firearms and trading favors in Sacramento for bribes. Yee allegedly accepted cash for his campaign unknowingly from undercover FBI agents.

The FBI, in its 137-page complaint alleged that Chow and five other defendants laundered $2.3 million between March 2011 and December 2013.

The suspects were linked to the Chinatown brotherhood association that Chow heads. Charges include trafficking in illicit guns, cigarettes and liquor.

The criminal complaint further alleges that Yee was a close associate of Chow. It also claims that Yee repeatedly took bribes and participated in discussions about assisting with gun-trafficking deals.


While Yee denies all charges, including bribery charges, an affidavit from September 2013, reveals when asked by an undercover FBI agent posing as someone associated with the medical marijuana business how much money Yee wanted to introduce marijuana legislation, Yee allegedly responded that “he would have to think about the number.”

The outcome of Yee’s corruption case has yet to be determined.

Finally, the last of the Democrat’s with charges pending against them, at least for now, in our series of three, comes from two brothers. One brother is currently a politician while the other is a former politician.

State Sen. Ronald S. Calderon and his brother, former Assemblyman Tom Calderon, were indicted by a federal grand jury earlier this year.

Sen. Calderon was indicted on charges of accepting $88,000 in bribes in exchange for official actions while his brother and former assemblyman was charged with money laundering. Both deny all charges and are currently awaiting trial.

Calderon was accused of taking bribes from undercover agents who he thought were independent Hollywood movie studio executives seeking support for an expansion of film tax credits in California.

The FBI’s affidavit also accused Calderon, and his brother of accepting more than a $1 million in bribes from the former chief executive officer of the former Pacific Hospital of Long Beach. Apparently, the CEO has been accused of running an elaborate health care scheme that may have bilked the state out of millions.


Whether the allegations against these three California Democratic politicians will have any bearing on the crucial upcoming 2016 elections is anyone’s guess at this point.

My educated guess would be that most California voters are not even aware of the alleged improprieties of these politicians and would vote for them tomorrow, if they were running.

On the other hand, even knowing that an indictment has been brought against a politician, is not a deterrent for some voters of the Golden State.

This past June, one tenth of California voters, supported Yee, following his indictment, by giving him a third place finish in the race for secretary of state. Go figure!

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