The California Senate, held by a Democratic supermajority, refused to take up a Republican measure to expel a Democratic lawmaker who now has eight felony convictions on his record.
The proposal to send Sen. Roderick Wright packing was sent to the Rules Committee by Senate Democrats, where it’s expected to die a slow, quiet death. The measure was introduced by Sen. Steve Knight, a Palmdale Republican, according to The Sacramento Bee.
“This will be precedent-setting,” Knight said during debate on his measure, The Bee reported. “We have gone past any time period where someone has been convicted of a felony and not resigned.”
The measure failed, 21-13, mainly along party lines.
Democratic Senate leader Darrell Steinberg said the measure wasn’t acted upon because the verdict could still be set aside by the trial judge up to the time of sentencing, even though a jury had already convicted the lawmaker. Sentencing has been scheduled for May 16. Until that time, Wright has gone on paid leave.
“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 on the floor. “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.”
According to The Bee:
Sen. Joel Anderson, R-Alpine, criticized Democrats for using their majority power to set aside a vote on Wright’s fate and said their support for him amounts to partisanship. Democrats will lose their two-thirds supermajority in the Senate if both Wright and Sen. Ron Calderon, who was indicted last week on 24 counts of corruption, leave office.
“You guys are the supermajority, you can do anything you want any time you want. … Except for of course, if two members are expelled from this house. And then you would have to work with us to get that supporting vote,” Anderson said.
The Bee noted that no member of thew California Senate has been expelled for over a century. In fact, Thursday’s debate marked 109 years to the day after four senators were expelled for bribery.
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