For his conviction on eight felony counts over lying about where he lived when he ran in 2008, state Sen. Roderick Wright was sentenced Friday to 90 days in the Los Angeles County jail system. He also has to serve 1,500 hours of community service and three years’ probation. Wright was banned from ever holding public office again. The jail term is scheduled to begin Oct. 31. How long it lasts in reality is up to the jail system.
Politically, this has to send another shiver through the spines of political candidates who cut corners on official papers — or outright lie — about where they live when they register to vote and file to run. Wright claimed to live in Inglewood but prosecutors said he actually slept in Baldwin Hills. Former Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon was recently convicted of felonies for saying in official papers that he lived in Panorama City, while the DA argued he actually lived outside the district in Sun Valley. There are believed to be lots of electeds who do this, either because they don't like living in certain districts or because the district where they have the best chance to win is not the one where they live. Now prosecutors are acting on it. Members of Congress, by the way, don't have to live in their districts, but they also can't lie on their voter registration.
Rep. Maxine Waters, state Sen. Holly Mitchell and Assemblyman Steve Bradford all attended the sentencing hearing in support of Wright.
The other political angle, of course, is in Sacramento. The Democrats in the Senate lost their super majority when Wright and two Democratic members also facing felony charges — Ron Calderon of Montebello and Leland Yee of San Francisco — were suspended and prevented from voting. Wright will eventually be out of office — it's unclear whether he has to be ousted by the Senate or not — but then will likely be replaced by another Democrat. The Democrats hope to get the supermajority back by the time the budget comes up for a vote again next spring. For what it's worth, Senate leader Darrell Steinberg on Friday called on Wright to resign.