Friday, March 28, 2014

California Dems Suspend 3 Members - And Lose Senate Supermajority

You might recall that a month ago, I wrote a piece about the outrageuos behavior of California Democrats in the State Senate who refused to suspend two members. One, Ron Calderon,had been indicted for 24 counts of corruption, which included accepting thousands of dollars in bribes from undercover FBI agents posing as a film studio owner and a Southern California hospital executive as well as wire fraud, money laundering and falsification of tax returns. Another Rod Wright had actually been convicted of 8 counts of voter fraud and perjury.

Instead of suspending them, the Democrats simply had them take a 'leave of absence' in order to preserve their supermajority while the two continue to receive their full salary of $ $95,291 per year courtesy of California's taxpayers.

Recently a third California Democrat state senator, Leland Yee, was charged in a federal criminal complaint this week with accepting bribes and coordinating an international gun-running operation. Oh yes, he's also an outspoken voice in favor of gun confiscation. There was also an attempt to put Yee on a 'leave of absence'.

Instead, the stench got so bad and the public reaction was so negative that finally, even Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg had to take action. In a vote of 28-1 in the 40 member senate, all three senators were formally suspended, which means that while they still collect their salaries, the trio are prohibited from exercising any power of their office until the pending criminal cases against them have been resolved.And California's Democrat supermajority in the state senate is history.

The lone senator to vote against the resolution, SR38, was Republican Sen. Joel Anderson of Alpine, because he argued that all three should be expelled outright and that it was wrong for the three disgraced senators to continue receiving their salaries.

It remains to see how things ends up. Certainly I would expect Governor Jerry Brown to spend state money on special elections or apoint temporary Democrats to these seats. But with elections due to be held anyway this year, it might be that they simply let things ride until November.

In any event, for now the Senate Democrats are going to have to work with Senate Republicans and take their considerations into account. And that's a good thing.

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