FBI raid on California lawmaker's and Latino caucus offices
FBI raid in Sacramento: The FBI searched the offices of California state senator Ron Calderon, a Democrat. FBI agents also searched the the office of the Latino Legislative Caucus. No reason was given.
The FBI searched the offices of a California state senator and the Legislature's Latino caucus on Tuesday but would not disclose the reason for the investigation.Skip to next paragraph
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Laura Eimiller, a spokeswoman for the FBI office in Los Angeles, said the warrants were served at about 3 p.m. Six to eight agents left the Capitol more than six hours later carrying at least a half-dozen boxes and what appeared to be a computer hard drive.
She would not disclose the target of the search warrants, but Senate Chief Sergeant-at-Arms Tony Beard told The Associated Press it was Sen. Ron Calderon, a Democrat from the Los Angeles County city of Montebello.
"It's a federal search warrant served on Sen. Calderon's office. It's a sealed search warrant. I don't know what it relates to," Beard said.
He said Calderon was not present during the search.
Calderon did not return a message left on his cellphone. His spokesman, Rocky Rushing, said he could not comment and referred calls to Los Angeles attorney Mark Geragos.
"I have a sense that they're on a witch hunt," Geragos said in a telephone interview. "My client refused to read their script and so this is what resulted....My client has done absolutely nothing wrong."
He said he does not know what the FBI is investigating or if others also are targets of the investigation.
He contended the Justice Department is targeting his client, a Democrat, as "a bait and switch" to mute congressional Republicans' outcry over recent disclosures, including that the department obtained telephone records from AP reporters and editors and private emails from a Fox News correspondent.
Beard told reporters who gathered outside Calderon's office Tuesday night that the office of the Latino Legislative Caucus, which is across the street from the Capitol in the Legislative Office Building, also was searched. A spokeswoman for the caucus, Lizette Mata, did not return telephone and email messages.
Sacramento defense attorney William Portanova entered and left the Capitol office during the search. He told the AP he was retained to represent the interests of the Senate as a whole, not any particular lawmaker.
"They're 100 percent cooperative with any investigation," Portanova said late Tuesday.
The warrants were being served as lawmakers who are part of the 23-member Latino caucus held an event with reporters at the Capitol to discuss the group's legislative priorities.
Tuesday's raid at the Capitol recalled the so-called "Shrimpscam" investigation in 1985, in which federal agents went undercover and posed as representatives of a phony shrimp-processing company. Five lawmakers went to prison for taking bribes in the FBI sting operation.