Sen. Joel Anderson alone in call for State Senate to expel 3 disgraced Democrats
State Senator Joel Anderson, R-Alpine, the lone dissenter in Friday’s vote to suspend with pay three members of the state Senate, said that his three colleagues, who stand accused of criminal charges ranging from weapons trafficking to public corruption, should be expelled.
“There should be only one measure on this floor,” Anderson said in his floor speech, “and that’s to expel these members.”
Senator Joel Anderson: Only California Senator to call for 3 expulsion
None of his colleagues, Republican or Democrat, joined Anderson in that call for expulsion, and instead voted 28-1 to suspend with pay Democratic State Senators Leland Yee of San Francisco, Ron Calderon of Montebello and Rod Wright of Inglewood. The suspension restricts the members from returning to the Senate floor, or exercising any power of their elected offices until they are formally cleared of all criminal charges.
The members, however, will continue to collect their $7,940 monthly paycheck, courtesy of California taxpayers, which Anderson describes as a paid holiday.
“Which is it today– More smoke and mirrors? More paid holidays for bad behavior?” Anderson asked on the Senate floor. “What we’re doing is incentivizing bad behavior with this resolution. It’s wrong.”
He added, “How is it sitting at home… getting paid by the state Senate and the people… acceptable and a punishment in any way, shape or form?”
Kevin de Leon: “Best legislative institution in the country”
Anderson’s speech drew a haughty and flippant response from State Senator Kevin de Leon of Los Angeles, who is expected to take over as Senate leader later this year.
“Smoke and mirrors, paid Roman monthly holiday vacations, raising my kids, incentivizing bad behavior, letters, thousands of letters upon letters that I guess have descended from the sky to the State Capitol,” the incoming Senate Democratic leader said in a stream of consciousness. “No individual, no group, no ethnicity, no gender, no political party has a monopoly on ethics or good behavior.”
“Let’s burn the house down,” de Leon said sarcastically in defense of the Senate. “Let’s become cannibalistic… as long as my ratings go up in my owndistrict.”
De Leon then added that the California State Senate was the best institution in the country.
“I cherish this august institution, the California State Senate,” de Leon said. “There is no greater political legislative body in this land than the California State Legislature… and that includes, yes, the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Senate.”
Of the 3 Democratic members facing criminal charges, de Leon said, “It’s an anomaly, a once-in-a-generation thing” and added that “the system in fact worked.”
“This is the best legislative institution in the country, hands down,” he said. “We’re going through very difficult times, and we’re going to get past this.”
Steinberg: No ethics class on gun-running
In contrast to de Leon, the current Democratic leader, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, spoke in a serious and contrite tone as he urged his colleagues to address their disgraced colleagues. He added that the latest accusations had changed his point of view.
“One is an anomaly. Two is a coincidence. Three?” he said. “I am calling on our entire body to take a deeper look at our culture.”
The Democratic leader, who had previously called for restraint as the members pursue their legal options, said that the Senate would conduct an “office-by-office ethics review” on April 7. Yet, he recognized the limits an ethics review.
“I know of no ethics class that teaches about the illegality and the danger of gun-running,” Steinberg said. “We express our anger and our revulsion at today’s events.”
3 separate criminal cases
Three members of the California State Senate are the subjects of three separate criminal cases. The most serious of the three cases surfaced last week, when the FBI arrested Yee on weapons trafficking and pubic corruption charges. Referred to as “Uncle Leland” by his co-conspirators, the San Francisco Democrat allegedly offered to smuggle millions of dollars worth of automatic weapons into the United States from a Muslim separatist group in the Philippines, according to the FBI affidavit.
In February, Senator Calderon was charged with a 24-count indictment in connection with bribery and corruption. In January, Senator Wright was found guilty of eight counts of felony voter fraud, perjury and filing a false declaration of candidacy.