Fourteen politicos — legislators, lobbyists, staffers — were convicted in the scandal that prompted voters to impose term limits on elected state officials.
We still don't know, as of this writing, precisely what the latest raid was all about. All we really know is that agents carted off several boxes.
It apparently involved a U.S. attorney's suspicion about Calderon, a Democrat from Montebello, and his brother, former Assemblyman Tom Calderon. Ron authored legislation on behalf of a water district that had consulting contracts with Tom.
Also, Tom was paid big bucks by some healthcare companies that got help in the Legislature last year from Ron and another brother, then-Assemblyman Chuck Calderon.
The Calderon family long has been prominent politically in Los Angeles County and occasionally has drawn scrutiny for overlapping politics and finances. The clan now includes a new assemblyman, Ian Calderon of Whittier, Chuck's son.
The raid apparently was a surprise to every lawmaker except Ron Calderon. He didn't show up for work in the Capitol on Monday and Tuesday. But celebrity attorney Mark Geragos was available to speak for him by telephone immediately after the Tuesday evening raid.
"The government is out of control," Geragos asserted, seemingly targeting his words at potential jurors. It "should be ashamed."
When a high-profile attorney suddenly pops up, I tend to think there's a fire burning.
But this investigation doesn't seem to be rising — or sinking — to the level of Shrimpscam. Then, federal agents created a fake shrimp processing operation and lured legislators into accepting bribes to support a bill enabling the phony enterprise.
Ironically, that FBI probe was urged by Assembly Republican Leader Pat Nolan of Glendale. He convinced the Reagan administration Justice Department that Democratic Assembly Speaker Willie Brown of San Francisco was vulnerable to stinging. But it was Nolan, among others, who got stung and went to prison. Brown wasn't touched.
"Always assume everyone in the Capitol is wearing a wire," Brown famously cautioned Democrats.
The current probe appears to be confined to the Calderon brothers.
And upon hearing about it, besides Shrimpscam, I immediately thought of what legendary Speaker Jesse Unruh used to say, years after leaving the Legislature.
Unruh, who became state treasurer, would shake his head in amazement at the seemingly sensible souls who would get elected and, after arriving in the Capitol, believe they had become invisible. They'd be pampered by perks, toadied over by lobbyists and lulled into the delusion that no ordinary folks could see their carryings-on.
Robert Hertzberg — former Assembly speaker-turned-political reformer who plans to run next year for the state Senate — basically agrees with Unruh.
"You get up there and everybody's telling you how good you look, that you're doing a great job, that you're the best in the world," he says, "and you start believing it. You're living in this Capitol bubble. It can get you in trouble."
But Hertzberg doesn't think corruption now is pervasive in the Capitol.
"There's very little," he asserts. "You don't see the kinds of corruption there was in the '70s. And things done in the '60s with Unruh would never be done today. People coming to homes with envelopes of cash. It's a different world."
Agreed. Powerful lobbyists, for example, aren't hanging out in the Senate leader's office playing poker and monitoring conversations as they were when Democrat Hugh Burns was president pro tem back in the so-called good ol` days.