On Tuesday, a jury convicted Senator Roderick Wright of eight felony counts for perjury and election fraud related to election residency requirements. The jury considered whether Senator Wright lied on his candidacy papers when he said he resided in Inglewood and whether he voted fraudulently. (See Los Angeles Times articles: 1/28/14 11:16 a.m. and 1/28/14 7:38 p.m.)
State law requires a candidate for the Legislature to live in the district they represent. Senator Wright completed candidacy papers in 2007 to run in the 25th Senate District, listing his residence as Inglewood, within the 25th District. But the Los Angeles County District Attorney accused Senator Wright of actually living in a home in upscale Baldwin Hills, not in the district, while pretending to move into the Inglewood residence.
A candidate may only have one “domicile,” the candidate’s permanent principal home to which he or she returns or intends to return. In addition to lying on his candidacy papers for the office, the jury convicted Wright of voter registration fraud and voting fraudulently in five elections.
Senator Wright testified during the trial that he thought he followed the law in 2007 when he initially completed his candidacy papers and registered to vote, and that he did not intend to deceive anyone. He also testified that he moved clothes and personal items into the Inglewood home. At the time, Senator Wright was not a novice to the political process, having served in the California Assembly from 1996 to 2002 and working as an aide to other elected officials prior to his election.
The trial began on January 8th. The nine-woman, three-man jury began its deliberations on Friday, January 24th and returned a verdict on Tuesday, January 28th. Judge Kathleen Kennedy set sentencing for March 12th. Senator Wright’s attorney said that he intends to appeal.
Senator Wright could face up to eight years in prison. He remains in office now (serving in the redrawn 35th Senate District) but may be removed from the Legislature by a two-thirds vote of the Senate. Some newspapers and commentators have called on him to resign.