The Senate voted 28-1 to suspend the three, all of whom have been
charged with or convicted of criminal wrongdoing in separate cases,
in a move that further erodes what had once been a Democratic
two-thirds super-majority in the Senate.
"An affirmative suspension puts this house on formal record that we
unequivocally distance ourselves and the Senate from the
unfathomable allegations contained in the Yee indictment as well as
the other case," California Senate Democratic leader Darrell
Steinberg said during the meeting.
California Governor Jerry Brown, meanwhile, called on all three
politicians to step down.
"Given the extraordinary circumstances of these cases, and today's
unprecedented suspensions, the best way to restore public confidence
is for these senators to resign," said Brown, a Democrat who is
The suspensions with pay, the first in state history from the
Senate, deal a major blow to Democrats in an election year as they
seek to use large majorities in both houses of the state legislature
and all statewide offices to push through key projects. A spokesman
for Steinberg said the suspensions would take effect immediately.
Yee, a former San Francisco supervisor and one-time mayoral
candidate, was criminally charged in federal court in San Francisco
on Wednesday with two felony counts of conspiring to import and
traffic in firearms, and six corruption counts.
A day later, he withdrew from a race for California Secretary of
State where he had been considered a strong candidate to become
California's chief elections officer. Yee has been released on
REPUBLICAN SEEKS EXPULSION
In the probe that led to Yee's arrest, federal authorities also
arrested Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, alleged to be the head of a
Chinese organized crime syndicate, and two dozen other people,
A criminal complaint from the U.S. Attorney's office for the
Northern District of California says that Yee, in exchange for
campaign contributions, did favors for an undercover FBI agent.
Yee offered to facilitate a meeting between an undercover agent and
an arms dealer, and discussed the types of weapons the undercover
agent might need, the complaint said. Yee has declined to comment on
The Senate also suspended fellow senators Ron Calderon, who was
indicted last month on corruption charges, and Rod Wright, who has
been found guilty of voter fraud. Both had already been on paid
leaves of absence.
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Calderon is charged in a federal grand jury indictment with taking
some $100,000 in cash bribes, along with plane trips, golf outings
and jobs for his children, in exchange for influencing legislation.
Prosecutors say he accepted bribes from hospital owner Michael
Drobot to preserve a legislative loophole that allowed Drobot, who
is cooperating with prosecutors, to defraud the state healthcare
system out of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Calderon is also accused of taking money from undercover FBI agents
posing as executives from an independent Hollywood movie studio in
exchange for supporting an expansion of film tax credits in
Wright, who represents parts of Los Angeles and the suburb of
Inglewood, was convicted in January of voter fraud and perjury after
prosecutors said he did not reside in the district he represented.
He had previously been granted a paid leave of absence on the
grounds that while he had been found guilty by a jury, the judge in
the case had not yet formally endorsed the verdict.
Friday's suspension measure was opposed by Republican Senator Joel
Anderson, who favored expelling the senators rather than suspending
them with pay.
"What we're doing is incentivizing bad behavior with this
resolution," Anderson said.
(Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb; writing by Cynthia Johnston;
editing by Scott Malone, James Dalgleish, Gunna Dickson and Diane
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