GOP senators seek to force Rod Wright’s explusion

Three Republican state senators will move for a vote Thursday to expel state Sen. Roderick Wright from the Legislature.

Wright, D-Inglewood, was convicted of last month of eight felony counts of perjury and voter fraud related to not living in the district he represents. The California Constitution disqualifies anyone convicted of crimes including perjury and malfeasance in office from keeping their seat, but state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg has said he won’t seek Wright’s resignation before the judge makes the jury’s verdict final at sentencing.

Wright’s sentencing was delayed last week until May 16. Steinberg announced Tuesday that he had “met with Senator Wright and he requested an indefinite (paid) leave of absence pending the conclusion of the legal process now before the trial court in Los Angeles. I’ve accepted his request and wish him well going forward.”

That won’t fly for senators Steve Knight, R-Antelope Valley; Joel Anderson, R-El Cajon; and Andy Vidak, R-Hanford. They’ll be moving for a vote during Thursday’s floor session on Senate Resolution 29, for Wright’s explusion.

Read the full text of SR 29, after the jump…

Senate Resolution 29
Relating to the expulsion of Senator Roderick D. Wright
By Senators Knight, Anderson & Vidak

WHEREAS, On January 28, 2014, by eight unanimous votes of a jury of his peers, Senator Roderick D. Wright was found guilty of eights felonies; and

WHEREAS, The felonies Senator Wright was convicted of included five counts of fraudulent voting, two counts of perjury, and one count of filing a false declaration of candidacy; and

WHEREAS, Section 8 of Article VII of the California Constitution provides as follows:

“(a) Every person shall be disqualified from holding any office of profit in this State who shall have been convicted of having given or offered a bribe to procure personal election or appointment.
(b) Laws shall be made to exclude persons convicted of bribery, perjury, forgery, malfeasance in office, or other high crimes from office or serving on juries. The privilege of free suffrage shall be supported by laws regulating elections and prohibiting, under adequate penalties, all undue influence thereon from power, bribery, tumult, or other improper practice.”; and

Whereas, The oath of office that state Senators swear to uphold upon taking office reads as follows: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties upon which I am about to enter”; and

Whereas, Section 1021 of the California Code provides as follows: “A person is disqualified from holding any office upon conviction of designated crimes as specified in the Constitution and laws of the State”; and

Whereas, Subdivision (a) of Section 5 of Article IV of the California Constitution provides as follows: “Each house shall judge the qualifications and elections of its Members and, by rollcall vote entered in the journal, two thirds of the membership concurring, may expel a Member”; and

Whereas, The California State Senate convenes in a chamber under portrait of “George Washington – a symbol of dedication and integrity”; and

Whereas, The practices, traditions and standards of the Senate in previous cases involving Senators convicted of felonies have led to swift and decisive actions by Senate leaders of the recent past; and

Whereas, Democratic Senator Joseph B. Montoya was convicted on February 2, 1990, of committing seven felonies; and

Whereas, Soon thereafter Senator Montoya was given an ultimatum by the Senate Committee on Rules to resign by February 9, 1990, or face expulsion by a vote of his colleagues”; and
Whereas, Senator Montoya resigned from the Senate on February 9, 1990; and

Whereas, Senate President pro Tempore David Roberti (D-Los Angeles) thanked Senator Montoya for bowing out and not forcing the Senate to expel a Member for the first time since 1905;” and
Whereas, Senate President pro Tempore Roberti said at the time, “Senator Montoya is helping us conduct the business of the Senate without the rancor and disruption that a more radical process would have caused. Senator Montoya could have held on to a bitter conclusion. He chose not to. I thank him for that”; and

Whereas, Republican Senator C. Frank Hill was convicted on June 16, 1994, of committing three felonies; and

Whereas, Senator Leroy Greene (D-Carmichael), chairperson of the Senate Committee on Legislative Ethics, urged members of the Senate Committee on Rules to put aside their personal affection for Senator Hill and to vote to oust him as the ethically and morally correct course of action”; and

Whereas, Senator Greene told colleagues, “The people of this state have a right to expect that we will judge convicted criminals in this house by the same standards by which we judge others”; and

Whereas, The Senate Committee on Rules voted on June 30, 1994, to expel Senator Hill; and

Whereas, The four members of the Senate Committee on Rules who voted to expel Senator Hill were Senate President pro Tempore Bill Lockyer (D-Hayward), Senator Ruben Ayala (D-Chino), Senator Bill Craven (R- Oceanside), and Senator Bob Beverly (R-Manhattan Beach); and

Whereas, Senator Hill resigned from the Senate on July 8, 1994; and

Whereas, Senator Wright has had, since his being found guilty on January 28, 2014, the option of resigning from the Senate but has not done so; and

Whereas, The Senate leadership has had, since January 28, 2014, the option of requesting Senator Wright to resign from the Senate but has not done so; and

Whereas, Under the power and authority by the California Constitution, the full Senate can, by a two-thirds vote of the membership, expel a Senator found guilty of a felony; now therefore, be it

Resolved by the Senate of the State of California, two-thirds of the membership concurring, That pursuant to the authority conferred by Section 5 of Article IV of the California Constitution, Senator Roderick D. Wright, representing the 35th Senate District, is hereby expelled from the California State Senate for his eight felony guilty verdicts, effective immediately.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    This august body cannot abide the mere suggestion of impropriety. (Cut me a friggin’ break. Dude’s unpardonable offense–getting caught)

  • JohnW

    Wow! That’s a whole bunch of whereases. I love the one about how the state senate convenes under a portrait of George Washington. I’m surprised they didn’t add in the story about chopping down the cherry tree.

  • Elwood

    Why of course the distinguished senator should get a paid vacation. After all he was only convicted of eight felonies. The illustrious pro tem has said in the past that he could continue to “serve” during the appeal process ’cause he ain’t really convicted until all his appeals are exhausted. That should be some time after the next ice age.

  • Willis James

    Its time to move out Wright and Calderon…. Make room for Hayashi

    Seems like no matter how many they remove for corruption, the water level remains the same.

  • Given that Senator Wright’s on a (paid, unfortunately) leave of absence, waiting until the sentencing hearing on May 16 seems to make sense. That would result — as I understand California election law — in avoiding the wasteful special election that would result from a vacancy in the 35th senate district.

  • Elwood

    Never mind! Proving once again that there is loyalty among thieves, senate dimmiecrats have sent this matter to the rules committee from which it will never emerge. They’re circling their wagons around their fallen comrade Wright.

  • JohnW

    Seems odd that you can run for Congress in a district 300 miles from where you live but go to jail for falsely claiming to live in a state senate district 3 miles up the road from where you actually live. Them’s the rules. Understood. But still seems odd.