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CA 'zombie' State Senators and the 'Yee-Wright-Calderon ethics contagion'

These are difficult days for the California democratic party with current allegations of corruption against several State Senators.

Samson Wong writes about it in AsianWeek:

"For Democrats, California is a toxic ethical environment with the legal troubles of State Senator Leland Yee of San Francisco and his LA County colleagues – Roderick Wright of Inglewood and Ron Calderon of Montebello. Republicans – thanks to the trio – could regain their influence by stumping on ethics, including the March 26 FBI charges of gun running and bribery against Yee."

'Zombie' state senators

The story from CapRadio is that all three have been suspended with paychecks still coming. A new label, made by Wong, of Yee being a "zombie" state senator, likely would apply to them all. Wong stated a suspension-with-paycheck renders the elected official "unable to vote."

The political drama, according to Wong, leaves democratic party leaders needing to build an election firewall of sorts:

"With Democrats having to defend more state constitutional and legislative offices than Republicans, Democrats may have to build a firewall to inoculate themselves from potential election defeats due to the Yee-Wright-Calderon ethics contagion. The three, encouraged to resign by their party leadership, are likely to linger in office during the 2014 campaign. Yee – indicted with underworld leader Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow – could end up being a zombie Democrat, suspended like Wright and Calderon but still collecting a paycheck, unable to vote while imperiling the party’s hold on California government…"

The GoogleDocs affidavit of Federal Bureau of Investigation's Special Agent Emmanuel V. Pascua is a criminal complaint against political consultant Keith Jackson, Senator Yee (aka "Uncle Leland") and Kwok Cheung Chow (aka "Shrimp Boy" or "Hai Jai") who is in this country "awaiting resolution of an application to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to obtain an S-visa ...." The S-visa is given to witnesses in criminal proceedings the document explains.

Suspension, not expulsion

The California Senate, by a 28-1 result according to ABC10news, voted to suspend the three members mired knee-deep in legal troubles. Thus:

Suspended by colleagues are Leland Yee, D- San Francisco (indicted on allegations of conspiracy, wire fraud, and firearms trafficking charges); Ron Calderon, D-Montebello (indicted on allegations of taking bribes); and Rod Wright, D-Inglewood (found guilty by a jury of voter fraud and perjury).

The one lone vote against suspension was from a Republican state senator: Joel Anderson of El Cajon. According to the ABC story, he just wants the trio expelled from the Senate. Following the vote, Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, issued a statement. Included was this:

"In the face of these allegations against three members, we can either bury our heads or we can hold them high. I choose to hold my head high and urge my Senate colleagues to do the same. We have a lot of work to do on behalf of the people of California and we intend to do it. At the same time we will not hesitate to take stock, look inside and to make sure we're doing everything we can to protect the integrity of this great institution."

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