Editorial: Sen. Wright shows why he must step down
02/01/2014 12:00 AM
02/01/2014 12:19 AM
On the day senators contorted themselves to help him, Sen. Rod Wright insulted the Senate by introducing a bill that could extricate himself from his legal bind.
A Los Angeles County jury Tuesday found Wright guilty of perjury and voting fraud for violating a law that says legislators must reside in districts they represent. Wright lived in Baldwin Hills outside the district, not Inglewood in his district as he claimed.
The Bee’s editorial board urged Wright on Wednesday to resign, saying that if failed to do so, the Senate should expel him. Wright showed why he cannot continue to serve on Thursday.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg bent over backward for Wright by contending that while a jury found Wright guilty, the verdict was not final because a judge has not yet affirmed it. Judges rarely overturn jury verdicts. Steinberg was giving Wright the benefit of the doubt.
On Thursday, Wright introduced Senate Bill 929. It says a judge could deem a felony to be a misdemeanor if, for example, the crime was nonviolent and the defendant proves. The bill smacks of self-dealing.
Steinberg angrily announced on Friday that the bill would die without a hearing, rightly so. Later on Friday, Wright apologized.
But Wright abused his Senate friends and misused his office by introducing a bill that could benefit him.
Legislators convicted of felonies lose the privilege of being able to propose legislation, especially bills to help themselves.
If Wright fails to step down, the Senate must force the issue, for the good of the institution.
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