Capitol Corruption Inspires June Ballot Measure

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Former State Senator Leland Yee. Photo Credit:

California Secretary of State Alex Pedilla has assigned a number, Proposition 50, to the only measure to appear on the upcoming June primary ballot.

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If passed by the voters, Prop. 50 would amend the state constitution to allow either chamber of the Legislature, by a two-thirds vote, to suspend a member of that body without pay or benefits.

The measure stands as a reminder of the corruption that has gripped the California State Capitol in recent years.

To understand the origin of this measure, placed on the ballot by the Legislature, you need only look back to March 28, 2014. That was just days after State Senator Leland Yee became the third Democrat in the Legislature’s upper chamber to become embroiled in criminal wrong-doing, with the federal government charging Yee with gun-running, illegal sale of firearms, of taking tens of thousands of dollars in cash bribes, and more.

The previous month, State Senator Ron Calderon had been indicted by the federal government on bribery and corruption charges. A month before that, State Senator Rod Wright was convicted by a jury of multiple felony counts of voter fraud and perjury.

Then-State Senate President Darrell Steinberg was part of a bi-partisan Capitol establishment which largely looked the other way, permitting Wright to serve after being charged, and – incredibly – after being found guilty. Calderon was also allowed to continue to serve despite his high-profile charges. Public calls by several Republican Senators to take action, including a formal resolution to expel Wright, were buried by Steinberg and not permitted to come to a vote. It wasn’t until Yee was indicted that finally the pressure on the State Senate leadership was such that they were forced to act.

Yee’s indictment was apparently the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, and the Senate voted to suspend Calderon, Wright and Yee. When that was done, it was made clear that there was no authority under the state constitution to stop paying the Senators their $90,526 annual pay–and benefits. At that time the constitutional amendment that would become Prop. 50 was introduced.

Wright remained in the Senate until appeal of his conviction was denied. Calderon and Yee served through the end of their terms in 2014, while suspended from their official duties. Both have criminal trials pending.

California state law allows only for measures placed on the ballot before the Legislature to appear on the June ballot. All measures qualified by gathering signatures must appear in November. It is anticipated that over 15 measures will appear on the general election ballot.

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  1. It should not require a vote. It should be automatic as soon as they are arrested they should be suspended without pay. If they win in court they can go back to work if the lose they are fired and loose all pension benefits.

  2. If it had been a voter-generated measure, it would have called for their removal from the legislature and strung up to a nearby lamp-post.
    So, I guess they’re letting themselves off easy.

  3. DR Richard Muccillo says

    NEED to get rid of baldybrown and the L. Gov as well

  4. So if a legislator decides to act above and outside the law, the legislative body seeks to unilaterally strip the suspect office holder of wages and benefits to conduct representation he was elected to perform?
    The adage rings true, that when all you have is a hammer, all problems look like nails. And when all you require is unrestricted broad sweeping authority, all solutions seem to require that nature.
    But, if the electorate who placed the office holder refrains from recall, they exclusively should foot his financial needs.
    I can however see the Legislature censuring the offender (meaning no participation will be respected until the next election results).
    Better yet, stipr the legislature of the full time spending status the Big Daddy Jess Unruh bestowed on it in 1968, and let a part-time legislature learn how a living is made. IMO

  5. Gotta Gedada Displace says

    California can’t even be more than STUPID when it TRIES to be smart! Check – there is NO REQUIREMENT or MENTION of illegal activity ! Merely to require a resolution containing “findings and declarations setting forth the basis for the suspension.” leading Sen. Joel Anderson (R-38), to make the following objection in opposing it-
    “This amendment means California citizens would face years of taxation without representation while their representatives sit in indefinite periods of suspension. This amendment not only is a clever way to use a crisis to gain power but also would allow the majority party to use suspension as a tool for political retribution to punish members who question authority. For these reasons, I opposed SCA 17.”
    I have to ESCAPE this ASYLUM !

  6. Do you mean to tell me that Leland Yee is still awaiting trial?

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