Assemblyman Ian Calderon Violated Laws by Abusing State Automobile Policy 

 

Assemblyman Ian Calderon. Photo by Randy Economy.

 

By Randy Economy and Brian Hews

Hews Media Group-Community Newspaper has obtained documents that show California State Assemblyman Ian Calderon filed reports with the California Secretary of State indicating he spent over $13,000 in campaign funds to maintain and operate a personal vehicle, when those campaign funds should have only be spent on a committee leased or owned vehicle.

State law mandates that an Assembly Member-or State Senator’s-campaign committee must be the titleholder or lessee of the car when expenses are submitted and paid that are related to the car such as gas, maintenance, or lease payments.

Chapter 10 of the 2008 FPPC Campaign Manual states, “when making payments associated with leasing, purchasing or operating a vehicle such as insurance, and/or maintenance and repairs, the campaign committee must be the lessee or hold title to the vehicle.”

In 2011, the California Citizens Compensation Committee amended the Salary and Benefits package of legislators saying, “members of the legislature shall no longer receive any of the existing benefits under the existing automobile policy including but not limited to allowance, insurance, repairs, gas and oil, and a leased automobile. Members of the legislature shall receive an automobile allowance of $300 per month.

In filings obtained and reviewed by HMG-CN, the 29 year-old first term lawmaker does not indicate any expenditures associated with the lease or purchase of the vehicle by his political campaign committee.

In reviewing Calderon’s filings with the Fair Political Practices Commission and the California Secretary of State, the lawmaker charged new tire purchases, had a custom windshield installed, and billed taxpayers $1,000 for a “BMW Service.”

Other receipts obtained by HMG-CN show that Calderon spent over $11,000 at various gas stations and mini-marts.

Receipts obtained by HMG-CN also show that Calderon was reimbursed for large gas purchases in successive days, sometimes multiple large purchases of between $50 and $80 on the same calendar day.

The analyses also shows that Calderon is among the top legislators in term of automobile expenses, beating out other lawmakers in much larger districts.

On New Year’s Eve in 2012, he spent $87.51 and $76.14 at the same Circle K.  He listed the expenses as “Candidate Travel, Lodging and Meals.”

In total, he made more than 170 different credit card purchases at gas stations between May 21, 2012 and December 18, 2013.

The California Political Reform Act expressly prohibits the use of campaign funds for personal benefit.

Sources are also telling HMG-CN that some expenses listed as being incurred in his district on a certain date were reported while Calderon was in Sacramento.

Calderon is currently engaged in a heated battle of in the 57th Assembly District against Whittier Family Law Attorney Rita Topalian. The district includes Norwalk, Whittier, Santa Fe Springs and surrounding areas.  In the June primary election, Topalian actually out polled Calderon by nearly four percentage points in the head-to-head match-up.

The Topalian campaign slammed Calderon on Tuesday in an interview with the newspaper.

“Ian Calderon has repeatedly broken the rules and needs to be held accountable to the voters,” a Topalian campaign spokesperson said.

Both of Calderon’s uncles, State Senator Ronald Calderon and former State Assemblyman Thomas Calderon are facing dozens of felony counts for accepting bribes, extortion, money laundering, and perjury in a massive sting undercover sting operation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Attorney’s Office as well as other local law enforcement groups.

Ian Calderon has maintained his innocence, has denied any participation or association with his two uncles, and has tried to distance himself from his family ties.

This despite Calderon giving his dad, Charles Calderon, $60,000 for his campaign to become a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge.

Charles Calderon has not been named as a suspect in the massive criminal probe but investigators have been tight lipped in regards to the details of the case that has been ongoing for more than five years.

See campaign reports, click here.

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