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California lawmaker said to be target of FBI probe may lose committee posts

By Sharon Bernstein

SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) - The Democratic leader of the California State Senate sought on Wednesday to temporarily remove a lawmaker who is the apparent target of an FBI probe from several committee assignments, pending the outcome of the investigation.

The senator at the focus of the probe, Democrat Ron Calderon of the Los Angeles suburb of Montebello, was accused of taking $60,000 in bribes from an undercover agent posing as a movie producer, according to an apparent FBI affidavit posted online last week by Al Jazeera America.

"I am asking the Senate Rules Committee to temporarily remove Senator Ron Calderon as chair of the Senate Insurance Committee, pending resolution of the United States Attorney's investigation into his conduct," Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said in a statement.

"I will also ask the Committee to temporarily remove Senator Calderon from all other committee assignments, pending the same investigation," he added.

No indictments have been returned in the case, and no arrests have been made. Calderon has not been charged with any crime, and authorities have declined to provide details about the investigation.

Last spring, Calderon's offices were searched by the FBI, and the affidavit was apparently used to justify the search. A law enforcement source who declined to be named confirmed to Reuters that a probe was underway, and did not dispute the authenticity of the document posted by Al Jazeera.

A spokesman for Calderon, Mario Beltran, said the senator would not comment on the investigation or on Steinberg's request that he be removed from committee assignments.

In addition to asking for Calderon's removal as the Insurance committee chair, Steinberg also asked that the Senate Select Committee on California's Film and Television Industry, another committee chaired by Calderon, be disbanded altogether.

Calderon also sits on the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee, the Senate Environmental Quality Committee, the Senate Governmental Organization Committee and the Senate Select Committee on Procurement, and Steinberg has also requested that he be temporarily removed from those positions.

The Senate Committee on Rules is set to vote on Calderon's removal from his committee assignments on November 12. Steinberg is the chair of that committee.

(Editing by Eric Walsh)

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