Several major California newspapers have sued the state Senate for refusal to release appointment calendars for suspended state Senators Leland Yee and Ron Calderon. Both are facing separate bribery and corruption charges. Yee’s federal indictment includes racketeering and weapons trafficking charges.
The Bay Area News group, San Jose Mercury News and Los Angeles Daily News filed suit in Sacramento County Superior Court last week asking the court to force Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and the California Legislature to make the documents public.
In addition to Yee, a San Francisco Democrat, the newspapers also sought calendars and meeting documents for suspended Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello. Calderon, among a series of alleged bribes, was accused of accepting $60,000 from an undercover FBI agent posing as a film studio executive in exchange for legislation guaranteeing favorable tax credits. The accustions were made in a 124-page FBI affidavit supporting a search warrant for Calderon’s office, according to the lawsuit. The story first became public in October 2013 in a report by Al Jazeera Media Network.
On March 26, 2014, FBI agents also searched the office of Yee based on allegations he was part of a conspiracy to traffic in firearms without a license, import firearms and engage in a wide ranging racketeering conspiracy that included money laundering and murder-for-hire.
The lawsuit outlines specific dates of meetings between Yee and the undercover agent that would be of pubic interest and allow the news organizations to confirm the claimed meetings.
The groups seek appointment books, meeting schedules, calendars and other materials under the Public Records Act (LORA).
The lawsuit accuses the Legislature of violating the act and the state Constitution and seeks a court order for release of the information.
Case: Bay Area News Group East Bay v. Calif. State Legislature