Ex-se­na­tors’ records must be dis­closed

Los Angeles Times - - THE STATE - By Pa­trick McGreevy and Phil Wil­lon pa­trick.mcgreevy @la­times.com phil.wil­lon@la­times.com

SACRA­MENTO — A Sacra­mento County judge has ruled that meet­ing sched­ules, of­fice cal­en­dars and other of­fi­cial records of former state Sens. Leland Yee and Ron­ald S. Calderon are pub­lic records, de­spite ef­forts by the state Leg­is­la­ture to block their re­lease.

The leader of the Se­nate said Fri­day that he would com­ply with the court or­der.

Yee and Calderon, both Democrats, are await­ing trial on fed­eral cor­rup­tion charges.

Sacra­mento County Su­pe­rior Court Judge Michael Ken­ney ruled in fa­vor of the Con­tra Costa Times, San Jose Mer­cury News and other news or­ga­ni­za­tions that sought the records in a law­suit.

The state Se­nate’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives as­serted that the doc­u­ments were ex­empt from dis­clo­sure un­der the Leg­isla­tive Open Records Act.

In his rul­ing, Ken­ney noted that the re­quested in­for­ma­tion con­cerns meet­ings re­ferred to in fed­eral in­dict­ments in con­nec­tion with al­leged bribery and other il­le­gal con­duct.

“The pub­lic in­ter­est in the dis­clo­sure of the re­quested doc­u­ments is pro­nounced,” Ken­ney wrote. At­tor­neys for the Leg­is­la­ture failed to prove that leg­isla­tive priv­i­lege barred their re­lease, the judge said.

The judge re­jected the Leg­is­la­ture’s ar­gu­ment that dis­clo­sure cre­ated a se­cu­rity risk.

Both se­na­tors were sus­pended in March 2014. Yee, a San Fran­cisco res­i­dent, and Calderon, of Mon­te­bello, have since left of­fice.

In re­sponse to the court de­ci­sion, Se­nate leader Kevin de León (D-Los An­ge­les) said Fri­day that he would make records pub­lic.

“I have in­structed Leg­isla­tive Coun­sel to im­me­di­ately col­lab­o­rate with the Bay Area News Group’s at­tor­neys to de­ter­mine pre­cisely what doc­u­men­ta­tion needs to be re­leased and to make it avail­able as soon as pos­si­ble,” De León said in a state­ment. “The judge’s de­ci­sion fairly bal­ances the in­ter­ests at stake and it is one that I sup­port. We have no plans to ap­peal.”

The judge did block a re­quest for of­fice records of De León. Ken­ney noted that, un­like Yee and Calderon, De León has not been ac­cused of any il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity re­lated to his of­fice.

Ken­ney found that pro­tect­ing the in­tegrity of De León’s de­lib­er­a­tive process as a law­maker out­weighed the pub­lic in­ter­est in dis­clo­sure.

San Fran­cisco at­tor­ney Duffy Carolan, an at­tor­ney for the news­pa­pers, said her clients were “very happy” with the rul­ing.

She said that at­tor­neys for the Leg­is­la­ture have 20 days to ap­peal the rul­ing.

Rich Pedroncelli As­so­ci­ated Press

THEN-STATE SENS. Leland Yee, left, and Ron­ald S. Calderon in the Se­nate cham­ber in Jan­uary 2014. The two are await­ing trial on cor­rup­tion charges.

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