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FBI Says California State Senator Accepted Bribes to Support Film Tax Credits

1 min readBy: Joseph Bishop-Henchman

From the Los Angeles Times:

According to the affidavit, posted on Al Jazeera’s website, [State Senator Ronald] Calderon [D-Montebello] allegedly accepted $60,000 in bribes from an undercover FBI agent posing as a movie executive and $28,000 more from a medical company owner in exchange for efforts to affect legislation on taxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. credits for the film industry and on workers’ compensation claims.

Steinberg said reading the affidavit made him “sick to my stomach.” He announced that he has removed Calderon from the California Film Commission for “the appearance of impropriety” and will consider taking away other committee assignments in the coming days.[…]

Calderon also told the undercover agent that he gave Steinberg two VIP tickets to a Giants baseball game as part of his effort to get the leader to support a change in the film tax creditA tax credit is a provision that reduces a taxpayer’s final tax bill, dollar-for-dollar. A tax credit differs from deductions and exemptions, which reduce taxable income, rather than the taxpayer’s tax bill directly. program, according to the affidavit. Calderon told the agent that he believed Steinberg supported the change.

Steinberg said he never supported the change, which was not included in any legislation. As for the baseball tickets, Steinberg said they were valued at $37.50 each and were properly reported to a state agency as a gift.

California launched its film tax credit program in 2009, pushing $100 million per year in credits to the industry. The hefty numbers and lax oversight surrounding these programs has also attracted criminal behavior in Iowa, where the program collapsed in scandal.