After waiting more than six months after a Democratic State Senator was convicted of lying about living in the district he represented, outgoing State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) finally issued a public call for Roderick Wright’s resignation, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Steinberg, whose term as Senate leader expires next month, stated, “Sen. Wright has a right to appeal as a citizen, but his constituents cannot continue without representation in the state Senate. I have stated from the beginning my belief that somebody convicted of a felony while in office cannot continue to serve. I have therefore asked Sen. Wright to resign.”
Wright was convicted in January and suspended from the Senate in March, but only sentenced on Friday to 90 days in jail, a $2,000 fine, and 1,500 hours of community service. He is barred from ever holding public office again; he lived in Baldwin Hills but represented Inglewood in the Senate.
Earlier this year, Wright stated he would not resign, and Steinberg eschewed any statement saying he would force Wright to resign by gathering two-thirds of the state to vote him out. He is still remaining noncommittal about his plans should Wright prove intransigent.
Meanwhile, Senate Republican leader Bob Huff of Diamond Bar said that now that the sentence has been issued, Wright should immediately resign. He stated, according to the Times: “Judge Kennedy had more than enough time to weigh the evidence and accept the jury’s verdict. Sen. Wright must do the honorable thing and resign immediately. If not, the Senate is prepared to vote to expel him and I am positive there are more than enough votes to do that.”
Steinberg, though, political to the end, used the opportunity to push for a review of residency laws, claiming different counties had different standards. He said, “The statewide inconsistency in applying the Elections Code is cause for concern and must be addressed.” There has been talk of Democrats targeting powerful GOP state Senator Tom McClintock, who Steinberg says “represents a Sierra foothill district but lives in a Sacramento suburb.”
Breitbart California Politics Editor Jon Fleischman observed last week that Wright’s sentencing could offer a chance for the state legislature to improve its poor standing among voters–if leaders would do the right thing:
It remains to be seen whether the successful prosecution of Wright by Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey will lead to a change in the culture of the State Legislature, where the practice of legislators not really living in their districts has been fairly widespread. In fact, many of Wright’s colleagues and other Capitol denizens felt that it was unfair that one legislator was actually being prosecuted on a residency issue when so many others, who are guilty of the same crime, are not being prosecuted.