State Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) allegedly maneuvered a deal between two senate colleagues that resulted in a $25,000 payoff for a blood relative of one of them, and amended workers comp legislation that eventually helped the owner of a Long Beach hospital indulge in what the FBI is calling “large-scale health care fraud.”
In a 125-page FBI affidavit posted online on Wednesday by the cable news network Al Jazeera America, de León’s name appears prominently—and as many as 47 times—in two of three stings that federal undercover investigators launched against state Sen. Ron Calderon, a longtime friend of de León whose Sacramento office was raided by FBI agents in June as part of an investigation into his finances.
Tape-recorded conversations with Calderon and other evidence resulted in the FBI accusing the senator of accepting a total of $88,000 in bribes from an undercover FBI agent posing as film studio owner and Long Beach hospital executive Michael Drobot.
The affidavit, which can be viewed by clicking here, alleges that de León urged Calderon to back away from the chairmanship of the California Latino Legislative Caucus in 2012 because Sen. Ricardo Lara wanted to retain the position.
In exchange for Calderon’s cooperation, the FBI affidavit alleges, de León arranged for $25,000 from the Latin caucus’s accounts to be given to Californians For Diversity, a consultancy firm owned by Calderon’s brother and former state senator Tom Calderon. In addition, according to the affidavit, Ron Calderon told an undercover FBI agent that de León told him he would offer him a paid appointment after he left the senate.
According to the Sacramento Bee, campaign finance records show that a fundraising committee aligned with the Latino caucus gave Californians for Diversity $25,000 on Jan. 2, a month after Lara was elected to remain chairman.
Further, Calderon asked an undercover FBI agent to make a political contribution at a Las Vegas fundraiser for de León as a reward for de León’s amendment of one of three legislative bills that the senator eventually dropped because he did not get any monetary “help” for his initial work.
The bills are at the center of a bribery scandal in which hospital owner Drobot allegedly funneled tens of thousands of dollars to the Calderon brothers.
The FBI’s allegations that de León “did something inappropriate are completely false,” the senator’s communications director, Karin Caves, told Patch over the phone from Sacramento.
“Ron Calderon is under investigation,” Caves said, adding: “The U.S. Attorney made clear that Senator de León is not a target of this investigation.”