The browser or device you are using is out of date. It has known security flaws and a limited feature set. You will not see all the features of some websites. Please update your browser. A list of the most popular browsers can be found below.
The last major undercover FBI investigation to shake the California political scene happened 25 years ago. Dubbed “Shrimpscam,” after a fake shrimp-processing company established by the FBI, the eight-year investigation led to the conviction of more than a dozen officials, including three state legislators, in a scheme to accept bribes in exchange for passing special-interest legislation. Remarkably, two of the bills passed the state Assembly, but were vetoed by then-Gov. George Deukmejian after the FBI advised him of the sting. As part of the operation, the FBI relied on a former Capitol aide as an undercover informant. The staffer wore a wire for two years for the FBI and posed as an owner of one the businesses involved.
The sting operation dubbed “Tennessee Waltz” led to the convictions of a dozen state and local public officials, including several state legislators. The FBI set up an electronics-recycling company called “E-Cycle Management Inc.,” and worked with a prominent lobbyist-turned-informant to offer bribes to public officials in exchange for exclusive contracts and legislation. The FBI says it paid out around $150,000 in bribes to the politicians in the undercover operation.
W. Carlton Weddington, an Ohio state representative, was sentenced to three years in prison on bribery and ethics charges after he was ensnared in an FBI sting. Weddington accepted all-expense-paid trips to Miami and California and campaign donations and cash as part of the operation. In return, he championed legislation beneficial to an FBI front company, according to the indictment in the case.
Katie Lannigan is a member of the Al Jazeera Investigative Unit.