The Capitol FBI probe involving state Senator Ron Calderon, D- Montebello, has dominated the news out of Sacramento this past week. Understandably so. It’s been more than a decade since the FBI has investigated corruption under the dome, and more than two decades since the last major arrest and successful prosecution of a sitting state legislator.
Because the FBI isn’t talking about their ongoing investigation, much of the reporting has been speculation — attempts to the connect the dots. Some of this has been well-informed, some has not. But, the worst speculation has been those stories that paint all the Calderons with the same brush.
In April, when I was in Sacramento to cover the California Democrat Party’s state convention, every reference to the Calderon family described them as two groups, 1) Ian and Charles and 2) Ron and Tom. And the latter group, Ron and Tom, were always described in less favorable terms. This was long before anyone knew about the pending investigation.
Over at CalWatchdog.com, I posted the first part in a series looking at the differences among the Calderon family. The people who know the Calderons best, old friends, current and former staffers, community leaders, and Sacramento lobbyists, say that each of the Calderons has brought a unique style and approach to the family business. Far from speaking with a uniform voice, the Calderons often have had heated political disagreements within the family and been on opposite sides of controversial legislative fights.
You haven’t read about these differences because it’s a challenge to report. People who know the Calderons aren’t interested in being named on the record, especially amid an ongoing criminal investigation. Most news outlets have policies against heavily quoting unnamed sources. And so no one is telling the other side of the story, which is best summed up by one unnamed Sacramento source.
“It’s always a pleasure to meet with Chuck or Ian,” one Sacramento source told me this week. “After I spend time with Ron or Tom, I feel like I need to take a shower.”
That’s reinforced by several other sources, who describe the stark contrasts among the Calderons. The first code of journalism is “to seek truth and report it.” Sometimes, anonymous or unnamed sources are the only way to tell the whole story. Don’t take my word for it. Check out New York Magazine’s Kurt Andersen on “Why Journalism Needs Anonymous Sources.”
Why do journalists use anonymous sources?
Because people who are willing to tell reporters interesting things—that is, confidential or disturbing information or opinions—are usually disinclined to appear to be the candid plain talkers or snitches or whistle-blowers or gossips or backstabbers they are.
As with all content on this site, feel free to republish this piece. Just be sure to link back to the source.