SACRAMENTO – Assemblywoman Melissa A. Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore) sent an official letter to California State Attorney General Xavier Becerra calling for an investigation of apparent quid pro quo-inspired vote trading, in order to pass Senate Bill 1, possibly violating several state and federal laws.
“I am for working toward a solution and understand the need for compromise, but there is a big difference between compromise and bribery,” said Melendez. “The Governor, Speaker Rendon, and President pro Tem de León doled out 1 billion tax payer dollars in deals to buy a handful of legislators’ votes to pass their gas tax. That’s not ethical and I believe, if the Attorney General actually looks into this, SB 1 will be found illegal.”
Article 4, Section 14 of the California Constitution states, “A person who seeks to influence the vote or action of a member of the Legislature in the member’s legislative capacity by bribery, promise of reward, intimidation, or other dishonest means, or a member of the Legislature so influenced, is guilty of a felony.”
Leading up to the vote on Senate Bill 1, there were numerous reports of members of the legislature in both the State Senate and State Assembly actively seeking “deals” to earn their support of the tax increase. The same day Senate Bill 1 was brought to a vote, Senate Bills 132 and 496 both were amended with language from the widely-reported “deals” struck to earn these legislators’ votes.
The arrangements made were for those legislators to support Senate Bill 1 and in exchange Senate Bills 132 and 496 will pass with their predetermined deals. This appears to be a standard quid pro quo exchange, which has been made clear by these members’ public statements about the evolution of their decision making and their rationale for voting for Senate Bill 1.
“I sent a letter to Attorney General Becerra calling on him to open an investigation into the possibility of illegal vote trading undertaken to pass this $52 billion tax increase,” said Melendez.
Several state and federal laws may have been violated on this illegal vote trading scheme including California Constitution, California Penal Code Section 86, the federal Hobbs Act (18 U.S.C Sec. 1951), and the federal Honest Services Fraud (18 U.S.C. Sec. 1346).
Assemblywoman Melissa A. Melendez represents the 67th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Lake Elsinore, Canyon Lake, Murrieta, Menifee, Wildomar and a portion of Hemet. It also includes the Riverside County unincorporated areas of Lake Mathews, Good Hope, Nuevo, and Winchester. Follow her on twitter: @asmMelendez