According to a report by the Al Jazeera television network, a sealed affidavit reported that Calderon accepted approximately $60,000 in bribes from an undercover FBI agent.
The FBI instituted a Sting Operation targeting California Senator Ronald Calderon, a Democrat from Montebello. The sting operation began in February 2012, with an undercover agent posing as an owner of a film studio located in downtown Los Angeles. The studio purported to provide studio facilities to independent films and commercials.
The bribe was allegedly in exchange for Calderon’s efforts to expand certain tax credits that are available to the film industry, and also for hiring the undercover agent’s girlfriend, who was also an undercover agent. In exchange, Calderon requested that the undercover agent hire his daughter.
The affidavit alleged that $25,000 of the bribe was given to a nonprofit organization formed by Calderon’s brother, Tom Calderon, a former Assemblyman. Calderon’s daughter was also paid $3,000, although she had not done any work for the agent. The agent also contributed funds to Calderon’s son’s tuition.
The affidavit alleges that the agent believed Calderon had engaged in conspiracy, mail fraud, and extortion under color of authority. It also alleges that by accepting the bribes, there is probable cause to believe that Calderon is guilty of these offenses, along with a separate bribery scheme with Michael D. Drobot, the chief executive officer of Pacific Hospital of Long Beach. It alleges that Calderon accepted $28,000 from Drobot in exchange for legislation that would delay or limit changes to the workers compensation laws in California.
These allegations were denied by Calderon’s attorney Jeffrey Rutherford. However, last year, a bill proposed by Calderon was signed by California Governor Jerry Brown, extending California’s $100 million in annual tax breaks for films made in the state. Calderon also made attempts to give tax breaks to productions of less than $1 million, and a tax incentive for commercials filmed in California. However, he did not succeed.
Calderon has not been charged with any crime. However, federal investigators are looking into Calderon’s proposal to expand tax credits to filmmakers.