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Politics

State Senator Ron Calderon Returns To Work Amid Federal Probe

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — An embattled state senator said he hopes to work with his fellow lawmakers as the Legislature reconvenes on Monday, despite an ongoing federal investigation and a bitter finger-pointing exchange with Senate leaders.

No charges have been filed against Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, who denies wrongdoing.

Calderon said he is “eager to join all of my colleagues,” although there are signs they might not be so happy to see him.

FBI agents raided Calderon’s Sacramento offices in June, and an FBI affidavit leaked in October alleges that he accepted nearly $90,000 from an undercover FBI agent and a Long Beach hospital executive in efforts to influence legislation.

His assigned seat in the Senate chambers has been moved from front-and-center to a far corner, next to a vacant desk. He also has been stripped of all committee assignments while the investigation continues.

On Monday, the door to his Capitol office was locked.

“I am looking forward to working collaboratively on the important legislative issues facing our state and to continue addressing the needs of the people who elected me to represent them in the State Senate,” he said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press.

Despite the loss of most of his duties, Calderon said he and his staff “remain committed to providing excellent legislative and constituent services.”

Calderon does not plan to have a media availability on Monday, spokesman Mario Beltran said. He did not immediately comment on the remote new seat assignment.

William Rhys, a spokesman for Senate President Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said Calderon was moved “for the effective management of the house.”

Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, said Monday that he could not comment on the status of the investigation.

In his own court filing in November, Calderon said he was asked to wear a recording device in a failed attempt to implicate Steinberg and Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, a top candidate to replace Steinberg this year as Senate leader.

Both have denied doing anything wrong and said federal prosecutors have notified them that they are not targets of the investigation.

In addition to being stripped of his committee assignments in November, Calderon was removed from the state film commission and from the executive board of the California Latino Legislative Caucus.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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