“Nowadays, people think ‘House of Cards” is a documentary.” John Pitney, Claremont McKenna College professor.

Professor Pitney’s quote in the Los Angeles Times was BEFORE the arrest of Sen. Leland Yee on corruption charges. He was referring to the conviction of Senator Rod Wright and the indictment of Senator Ron Calderon.

Three Democratic state senators in legal trouble shakes whatever faith is left in the government and reaffirms people’s suspicions about government. It also changes the Capitol’s political equation. As Sacramento gallows humor put it, the FBI did what the Republicans could not — end the Democrats’ supermajority.

Now we will hear debate whether it’s the culture of corruption that has enveloped the Senate or the lack of leadership, as Jon Fleischman argues elsewhere on this page.

That the FBI is vigorous in searching out corruption is no surprise. When I attended the Los Angeles FBI Citizens Academy a few years ago, we were told that under a reorganization of the Bureau, dealing with public corruption would get a new emphasis.

This crack down on corruption has rattled political cages nationally. Beyond the arrests, indictments and convictions in California, other politicians have been stung by the FBI. On the same day that Leland Yee was arrested it was revealed that the mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina quit after being caught in a FBI corruption web.

This begs the question, was corruption just as prevalent in past years when the effort to dig out political corruption may not have been as aggressive?

Let’s not be naive enough to ignore that criminal activity occurs in all segments of society, including the business community.

However, political corruption seems to have an added fascination despite an attitude from the general public that it is part of politics and has been forever. Despite that perception, glaring reports of political corruption sours politics for the public, diminishes the political profession and hinders governance.

The question for California state politicians is how will they regain voters’ trust?

The question for the state’s voters is will the criminal charges weigh on the their votes when they go to the polls?

Some have suggested that since all the charges have been made against Democrats, Republicans will benefit. If the Democrats in question faced the voters there would be repercussions but with Yee’s announcement that he dropped out of the Secretary of State race that will not happen.

However, there could be an indirect plus for Republicans. Political observers note that Republicans are expected to have a proportionally higher turn out in this off year election. If voters wash their hands of politics this year in disgust and the turn out is even lower than anticipated, Republicans could score some narrow wins.

Governor Brown’s office issued a statement that “the governor does not intend to preempt the Legislature or the courts by commenting at this time.”

During the last high profile FBI sting under the Capitol dome, the so-called Shrimp-gate in the 1980s, Gov. George Deukmejian was given a heads-up about the sting operation, if memory serves. However, there was a distinct different circumstance there because the sting centered around a specific bill that could move to the governor’s desk. There have been no indications that Governor Brown was aware of the FBI activity swirling around the state senators.

Whether the recent rash of alleged political malfeasance is a result of the culture, leadership or human nature harshly revealed, California politicians must respond with damage control to try and reassure the public.