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Legislative Leaders Examine Impact Of 3 Suspended State Senators

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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The FBI served another search warrant seeking more clues to build its case against suspended state Sen. Leland Yee as Capitol leaders try to figure out exactly what happens when they suspend a senator.

Investigators looked through more papers and computers inside a fifth floor office of the suspended senator. They’re trying to bolster their political corruption and gunrunning case against Yee.

Inside the Capitol, legislative leaders are still working on determining how exactly he and his other suspended senate colleagues will impact their constituents’ representation.

“It is the very first time as far as we can tell looking through history,” said Senate spokesman Mark Hedlund.

Yee, state Sens. Ron Calderon or Roderick Wright are not allowed back in Senate chambers, or their Capitol and district offices.

Calderon was charged in February with accepting $100,000 in bribes, lavish trips and no-show jobs for his children in exchange for pushing legislation to benefit a hospital engaged in billing fraud and participating in a film industry tax scheme that actually was an FBI sting.

Wright was convicted as prosecutors say Wright made it appear that he had moved into an Inglewood property he owned in order to run in 2008 to represent the 25th Senate District. His sentencing was originally set for March 12, but will now be May 16.

The three suspended senators are still receiving their pay, because of a legal opinion from the state’s Legislative Counsel Bureau stating their compensation can’t be touched by the Senate. The bureau contends authority over lawmakers’ pay rests with the California Citizens Compensation Commission.

But what happens to their constituents?

“I don’t know if we’re going to have a Senator in an adjoining district kind of take over the constituency temporarily, or exactly how that’s going to work,” said Hedlund.

The suspended senators can’t vote on bills, but the suspension doesn’t block them from all access to the Capitol.

“It certainly would not prevent them from contacting other members or contacting staff, but staff would be under no obligation to follow any directive of a suspended member,” said Hedlund.

In Yee’s case, several of his co-defendants also appeared in court on Tuesday. Yee’s friend and political ally Keith Jackson is facing a murder for hire charge in the federal complaint.

His lawyer, James Borsnahan, downplayed the allegation.

“They call it an affidavit, but it really was designed, and to some extent it succeeded, in creating an hysteria,” he said.

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