What's a Guy Got To Do To Get Kicked Out of the California Legislature?
Getting convicted of several felonies is apparently not enough
California State Sen. Rod Wright, a Democrat representing Inglewood, was convicted in January of eight counts of voter fraud and perjury for lying about whether he lived in his district. Though he has taken a leave from his position, he is still technically a state senator. Republicans have attempted to remedy the situation with a resolution to expel Wright from the Senate, only to have Democratic Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg shift the resolution to committee to block it.
Republicans are amazed at the decision, with Sen. Steve Knight pointing out that its unprecedented for a state lawmaker to be convicted of felonies and not have resigned by this point. Hilariously, Steinberg seems to think that there's a chance that the judge could overturn the verdict, so they shouldn't act too rashly. From the Sacramento Bee:
Permanently expelling Wright is premature, Steinberg said, because the action couldn't be undone and Wright is planning to ask the judge to overturn the jury's guilty verdicts. He is scheduled to be sentenced May 16.
"Senator Wright has already left the building. And unless the judge sets aside the jury's verdict, Senator Wright will not be coming back," Steinberg said during his floor speech.
Steinberg acknowledged that judges almost always uphold juries' verdicts, but said Wright is not technically convicted until the judge finalizes the jury's verdicts.
"The integrity of this institution cannot tolerate a convicted felon in its ranks. But at this point in time Senator Wright is not a convicted felon," Steinberg said.
If Wright goes and if State Sen. Ron Calderon, recently charged by the feds for corruption, gets convicted, the Democrats will lose their supermajority in the legislature, thus giving Republicans a little bit more influence on lawmaking.
In an interesting counternarrative, John Hrabe at CalNewsroom writes about how, despite this one lie about where he lived, Wright was very good at challenging his own party on its love of regulation and the impact on California citizens and was a supporter of gun rights. He also supported legalizing online gambling in California.