Al Jazeera America has scooped everyone with a great story about an FBI sting that is reminiscent of the Argo movie. Apparently the FBI set up an elaborate scheme to snare powerful Democratic legislator Ron Calderon, under the guise of a fellow, who was an undercover FBI agent, who wanted to make movies but needed Calderon’s help to lower the threshold for movie producgtions to be eligible for special tax credits.
Here are a few choice excerpts from the Al Jazeera American article:
The story of the Calderon political dynasty begins in 1982, when Charles “Chuck” Calderon won the District 59 seat in the California State Assembly. In 1988, he led a group of five assemblymen in unsuccessfully challenging the leadership of powerful Speaker Willie Brown. The speaker stripped the challengers of their committee chairmanships and removed them from their choice offices.
But Calderon was not deterred. In 1990, he won a seat in the state Senate and would later become Senate president, the first Latino to hold the position in California. At the same time, he was dogged by ethics charges. In 1994, the state fined him $15,000 for spending campaign funds on personal expenses.
With his political star rising, Calderon laid the path for his siblings to join the family business of politics. In 1998, Thomas won a seat in the Assembly and was handed the plum chairmanship of the Insurance Committee. In 2002 he ran unsuccessfully for state insurance commissioner. Meanwhile, Ronald, the youngest brother, ran for and claimed Thomas’ former Assembly seat.
Ronald, the least polished of the three brothers, rose in power and influence after joining the state Senate. He was appointed to the California Film Commission, which allocates $100 million in annual state tax credits to various film projects. He also became active in the increasingly powerful Latino caucus and, by 2011, was appointed its vice chairman.
The next year, Ronald Calderon met an independent movie executive who was eager to see the state tax credit requirements changed. Calderon did not realize that the friendly movie executive was an FBI undercover agent.
The FBI affidavit provides rich details on the sting. It indicates that an unidentified legislative aide introduced Ronald Calderon to an undercover agent at a lunch event in Los Angeles on Feb. 24, 2012. The agent presented himself as an independent movie executive with a studio in downtown L.A. Calderon described the movie tax credit program and also mentioned that his daughter, Jessica, was interested in the film industry.
The names of several other senators, including the Senate president and the chair of the California Latino Legislative Caucus, have surfaced in the case, although none has been implicated.
Click here to read the rest of this amazing article.