The leader of the California State Senate says "he will be damned" if the scandal involving Montebello Senator Ronald Calderon taints the reputation of the California legislature.
"It is an ethical body. I run it in an ethical fashion" said Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento). "I have done everything I can these past few weeks to separate the Senate from these allegations"
Steinberg made the comments on NBC4’s' "News Conference" program Sunday morning. A federal affidavit obtained by the Al Jazeera America cable network accuses Calderon of having accepted $60,000 in bribes from an undercover FBI agent. The document also says Calderon agreed to hire the undercover agents "girlfriend" as a Senate staffer despite having no experience for the position or ever showing up to work.
Steinberg has stripped Calderon of his membership on the California Film Commission and has asked the Senate Rules Committee to remove the fellow Democrat from his committee memberships. Steinberg compared the move to that of a law enforcement officer who is suspended while an internal investigation is conducted.
"You err on the side of protecting the public and that is what I am doing here."
Calderon has not responded to the actions of the Senate leader. Earlier his attorney, Mark Geragos, told the Los Angeles Times he thought the affidavit was “fabricated and untrue.” At least, that was his “guess".
Steinberg also discussed his efforts at increasing career education in high schools, prison reform and the application of the federal Affordable Care Act in California.
he entire interview airs Sunday, Nov. 10, at 9 a.m. following "Meet the Press" on NBC4 and can be viewed at nbcla.com/newsconference.
Correction: An earlier version of this report incorrectly stated that the bribe amount was $88,000.