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“There is no native criminal class except Congress,” said Mark Twain. A look at California might change his mind. As Taryn Luna notes in the Sacramento Bee, the state political ethics watchdog wants a $57,000 fine against state Senator Tony Mendoza, who allegedly “broke campaign-finance laws to keep money out of the hands of the Calderon family in Mendoza’s final days as chairman of the California Latino Legislative Caucus.”
Last month, former state senator Ron Calderon was sentenced Friday to 3 1/2 years in federal prison for accepting bribes to support legislation. Calderon took $12,000 worth of trips to Las Vegas, arranged for his daughter to be paid $3,000 a month for performing no work, and accepted $5,000 for his son’s college tuition. His son also bagged $10,000 for three summers in which he performed little work. In return, Calderon helped a hospital owner maintain a health-fraud scheme. Ron Calderon’s brother Tom laundered the bribes through his political consulting firm and in September Tom Calderon was sentenced to a year in federal custody. (For an extensive chronology of the cases see “The Calderon Corruption Saga” in the Sacramento Bee.) The corruption, however, does not stop with the Calderon family.
In February, state Senator Leland Yee was sentenced to five years in prison for accepting campaign contributions in exchange for favors. The FBI’s racketeering investigation also bagged former San Francisco school board president Keith Jackson, a Yee fundraiser. Jackson set up the bribery scheme, took payoffs to traffic in drugs and guns, and arrange a murder for hire. U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer called Jackson a “one-person crime wave” and sentenced him to nine years in prison. State Senator Rod Wright’s felony convictions on perjury and voter fraud landed him in jail, but the corruption extends to powerful unelected government bodies.
California Coastal Commissioner Mark Nathanson served five years in prison for bribery, and the longtime Commission boss Peter Douglas was on record that more criminality was going on. The more government, the more corruption. California leads the way.