SACRAMENTO — Assembly Majority Leader Mike Roos of Los Angeles, who had financial ties to Anaheim businessman W. Patrick Moriarty, has quietly been removed from the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee by Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco)
Brown said Thursday that the committee change had "nothing to do with" Moriarty, who agreed to become a government witness earlier this week after pleading guilty to a variety of corruption charges that included providing bribes and other favors to politicians.
Although the Speaker said he will continue to stand by Roos as majority leader, other legislative sources, who asked not to be identified, said Brown removed Roos from the Ethics Committee because it would not be proper for Roos to sit on the panel if it decides to investigate Moriarty's ties with legislators.
Closed Meeting Set
Assemblyman William Lancaster (R-Covina), chairman of the six-member Ethics Committee, declined to say whether the panel would look into the ties Roos and other lawmakers have had with Moriarty. He said the committee has tentatively scheduled a closed informational meeting next week to brief new members but refused to disclose what subjects might be raised.
Roos, through a spokesman, declined Thursday to comment on his removal from the committee.
Brown removed Roos and Assemblyman Richard Mountjoy (R-Monrovia) from the panel March 6 at the same time he altered the makeup of seven other joint committees. Mountjoy has never been linked to Moriarty.
The two Ethics Committee slots were filled by Assemblywoman Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) and Assemblyman Phillip Isenberg (D-Sacramento), both close Brown allies.
Uncharacteristically, the Speaker did not notify either Lancaster or Assembly Minority Leader Pat Nolan of Glendale of the changes. The Speaker's office made no announcement of the switch and staff members working for both Brown and Roos said they learned of it from news reports.
But Brown insisted that there was nothing unusual in the action.
"I must have made 1,000 committee changes this session," he said.
Roos in April, 1981, received help from Moriarty in obtaining low-interest, unsecured loans totaling $60,000. Later, he invested in a condominium development that Moriarty was building in Baldwin Hills.
During the 1981-82 legislative session, Roos was instrumental in winning passage of a bill backed by Moriarty that would have stopped cities from banning the sale of fireworks. The measure was vetoed by then-Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr.
The majority leader also has been named in allegations that he and other lawmakers were provided prostitutes by Moriarty.
In the Capitol, despite an undercurrent of tension, lawmakers were adopting a wait-and-see attitude toward the charges surrounding Roos and others linked to Moriarty, including Assemblyman Frank Vicencia (D-Bellflower) and Assemblyman Richard Robinson (D-Garden Grove).
Legislative sources said the issue has not been a topic of conversation in the Assembly Democratic Caucus, nor has there been any suggestion that it might lead to a leadership shake-up.