Al Jazeera America Exposes Corruption Investigation of California State Legislator

Affidavit filed by FBI alleges kickbacks by state senator

In one of its first major scoops since its August launch, Al Jazeera America has unearthed an FBI investigation into California state senator Ronald Calderon, who’s suspected of massive corruption.

Saying the FBI investigation could lead to “California’s biggest legislative scandal in more than two decades,” Al Jazeera America details the secret operation, which it discovered via a 124-page affidavit that’s under seal at U.S. district court in Sacramento.

Also read: Al Jazeera America Expanding With More Bureaus, Staff, Hours

According to Al Jazeera America, Calderon has used campaign money to pay for trips to Cuba and Las Vegas, golf trips, and other goodies.

The alleged corruption spreads beyond potential misuse of campaign funds, and into Calderon’s influence over the entertainment business, according to Al Jazeera’s report. When FBI agents posing as movie executives approached Calderon, who chairs the Senate Select Committee on California’s Film and Television Industries, about lowering the budget threshold for films to qualify for tax credits, Calderon said he could help make it happen — in exchange for financial assistance for his kids, according to the affidavit obtained by Al Jazeera America.

Also read: Time Warner Cable Strikes Deal to Distribute Al Jazeera America

“There might be a play, you know, to lower the tax credit,” Calderon allegedly told the undercover agents. “Any help you could do for my kids is — you know, that’s diamonds for me.”

According to Al Jazeera’s report, a deal was struck whereby Calderon’s daughter Jessica would be hired — though, Al Jazeera says, there was no real work for her to do, and the “job,” at $3,000 a month, was merely a ploy to filter money to Calderon.

Also read: Univision, Al Jazeera Anchors Slam Obama After Being Left Out of Media Blitz (Updated)

Al Jazeera further claims that Calderon employed his son Zachary in his alleged bribery schemes, using him to take money from a hospital executive who’s been sued by California for allegedly taking part in “multiple fraudulent schemes.”