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State Senate Votes to Suspend 3 Members

Senators Ron Calderon, Roderick Wright and Leland Yee were all suspended Friday.

The state Senate voted Friday to suspend three of its members, including Sens. Roderick Wright, D-Inglewood, and Ron Calderon, D- Montebello, both of whom are facing legal troubles.

Gov. Jerry Brown, meanwhile, called on all three senators to step down.

"Given the extraordinary circumstances of these cases -- and today's unprecedented suspensions -- the best way to restore public confidence is for these senators to resign," Brown said.

Wright had previously taken an indefinite leave of absence from the Senate while he awaits sentencing on five counts of voter fraud, two counts of perjury and one count of filing a false declaration of candidacy. He faces up to eight years and four months behind bars, with sentencing set for May 16.

Prosecutors said he lied about living in Inglewood, using a property there as a prop while he actually lived in Baldwin Hills.

Calderon is facing federal charges of accepting more than $100,000 in cash bribes, as well as plane trips and dinners, in exchange for supporting legislation. Calderon is charged in a 24-count indictment with federal mail fraud, wire fraud, honest services fraud, bribery, conspiracy to commit money laundering, money laundering and aiding in the filing of false tax returns.

Calderon's 59-year-old brother, Tom, is charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and seven counts of money laundering for allegedly funneling bribe money through a nonprofit group and consulting company he operates.

The Senate also voted to suspend Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, who was arrested this week in connection with federal charges of corruption and conspiracy to take part in a gun-running operation.

The Senate voted 28-1 to suspend all three, who will continue to collect their salaries but will not be able to cast any votes in the Senate.

"The actions taken by the Senate today also send a clear signal to lawmakers and staff that nobody is above the law," Sen. Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, said. "The examples of public corruption that have come to light in recent raids by the FBI will not be tolerated. The public has a right to be concerned about these shocking allegations and actions taken by the Senate today are justified."

Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima, said the Senate made the right move.

"While every citizen is entitled to due process in this country, the charges described suggest a complete disregard for the law, ethics and public safety and certainly have no place in our government," Padilla said.

—City News Service

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