State Sen. Wright resigns after voter fraud case

AP News
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Posted: Sep 15, 2014 9:00 PM
State Sen. Wright resigns after voter fraud case

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — State Sen. Rod Wright submitted his resignation Monday after he was sentenced last week to three months in jail for lying about where he lived when he ran for office.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg accepted Wright's one-sentence letter, which stated his resignation is effective Sept. 22. Jennifer Hanson, a spokeswoman for Wright, confirmed the senator submitted the letter.

To replace Wright, Gov. Jerry Brown has 14 days from the time the vacancy begins to call for a special election. Steinberg's office said the primary is likely to be in December with a runoff in February.

Wright, a Democrat from Los Angeles County, was convicted of perjury in January for lying about his residence and later was suspended with pay from the Senate. Wright's was the first of three unrelated cases against Democratic lawmakers who were suspended and cost the party its supermajority in the Senate.

Wright said he listed an Inglewood property as his residence so he could run in 2008 to represent the 25th Senate District, but jurors found he actually lived in a single-family home in Baldwin Hills, in a different Senate district.

Steinberg, a Democrat from Sacramento, had called on Wright to resign immediately after his sentencing.

Wright was ordered to surrender to law enforcement on Oct. 31. His attorney, Winston Kevin McKesson, previously said he would file an appeal.

A telephone message left on Monday for McKesson was not immediately returned.

During the sentencing in Los Angeles last week, Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy said Wright is no longer eligible to hold public office.

The sentence came after defense lawyers stressed that Wright was re-elected by a landslide, even after he was charged in the case, and that voters who want Wright to continue serving would be hurt by a stiff penalty.

Kennedy called the case a byproduct of term limits that send career politicians scrambling to seek new offices in different districts.

Wright's resignation came after the legislative session ended for the year. However, contenders wasted no time lining up to succeed him.

At least two lawmakers, Assemblymen Isadore Hall, D-Compton, and Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, declared their candidacies Monday. Hall and Bradford are termed out of their Assembly seats.

Two other Democratic state senators have been indicted on federal bribery and corruption charges. Sen. Ron Calderon of Montebello has been accused of accepting about $100,000 in exchange for promoting legislation to expand Hollywood tax credits and protect the interest of a hospital that benefited from a provision of the workers' compensation law.

Sen. Leland Yee of San Francisco was accused of accepting money and campaign donations in exchange for providing official favors and helping broker an arms deal. Both have pleaded not guilty.

The Senate suspended all three lawmakers with pay in March, ending Democrats' two-thirds majority in the 40-member chamber — a supermajority that had allowed them to act without any support from Republicans.