Governor Gavin Newsom has finally made his pick for an Attorney General to replace Xavier Becerra, who was confirmed as the new Secretary of Health and Human Services under the Biden administration.
After much talk about Representative Adam Schiff (D-WeHo) or Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, Newsom settled on Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) to assume the role of California Attorney General.
Cut from the same mold as Becerra, Bonta is a social justice warrior disguised as an attorney. Bonta has made his bones campaigning to abolish the death penalty, and to eliminate cash bail for a number of offenses.
If confirmed by the California Legislature, Bonta will be the first Filipino American to serve as California Attorney General, so he hits the requisite intersectional and SJW markers.
“As California’s first Filipino Attorney General, Assemblymember Rob Bonta will fight to reform our justice system & stand up to hate. He has led efforts to end cash bail, ban for-profit prisons, renter protections, and hate crime protections. He will be a staunch advocate for California values,” the Officer of the Governor said Wednesday on Facebook.
Just as in his governance, Newsom seems to lack a certain discernment with his cabinet picks.
Bonta, who most recently authored the “Wealth Tax” bill in the Assembly that sought to tax high income earners who left the state, tends to keep his shady on the downlow, with questionable behested payments, networking junkets on the California taxpayer dime, and being paid in campaign contributions for his “Yes” vote on AB5.
But if credible, the long shadow of this allegation could derail his political ambitions and if he is confirmed as AG, could get him recalled.
A former staffer in the California Legislature has alleged that Bonta aided and abetted sexual abuse and harassment at the Capitol while Bonta was Chief of Staff.
Trisha Tahmasbi worked as the Chief of Staff for Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) between 2010 and 2014, before Wieckowski ran and was elected to the State Senate.
Back in February, Tahmasbi chose to take to Twitter to petition Newsom to not consider Bonta for Attorney General.
Governor @GavinNewsom: I am writing to you today to ask you to cease any consideration of Assemblymember Rob Bonta for appointment to Attorney General.
— Trisha (@Trisha_Tahmasbi) February 19, 2021
On a personal note, I have been struggling for years to talk about the abuse I was subjected to as a #CALeg staffer under the guise of "mentorship". But it must be talked about, because it is NOT an isolated incident. So many more are still suffering in silence, afraid to speak.
— Trisha (@Trisha_Tahmasbi) February 19, 2021
It is a very long Twitter thread, so here is the meat of her very juicy allegations outlined below:
Mr. Governor, I worked in a #CALeg office riddled with sex abuse & exploitation.
The 3 married men at the top of the food chain in my Legislative office, including the Legislator, used power in an attempt to gain sexual advantage over young women in & around the workplace. My abuse started as an entry-level staffer: It irreparably harmed my health & wellbeing
It was made crystal clear to me that if I ever spoke up about what was taking place in our office — and the Capitol, to a greater extent — that my job, safety, livelihood, future prospects & reputation would be in jeopardy. My abuser delivered that msg personally, but also had numerous enforcers around to fortify the intimidation. Please understand, when it comes to sex abuse in the State Capitol, we’re not talking about a few guys playing grab-ass on the cocktail circuit. We’re talking about hundreds of abusers & enforcers who have each other’s backs.
I looked up to my abuser, he was a trusted mentor. I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t tell you how hard it was to process & confront the abuse and trauma: beyond the sexual exploitation there was insidious coercive control, psychological abuse & emotional grooming and conditioning.
There was also a time when I had great respect & admiration for Assemblymember Bonta. Until he made a calculated decision to intimidate me, prevent me from reporting misconduct, and provide political cover & legitimacy for the man who started abusing me as an entry-level staffer.
As a Chief of Staff in a new office, I came forward to file an internal complaint w the Assembly, to document the widespread abuse of power & exploitation mentioned above. As promised, my abuser activated numerous local & state leaders in an attempt to intimidate me into silence.
I was contacted by Legislators, Staff, Mayors, Councilmembers, Schoolboard members, even a former Attorney General: ALL sent to threaten & pressure me from reporting abuse. They told me not to put anything in writing. They told me not to retain my own attorney. It was TERRIFYING
Together, this group was tasked to help “run out the clock” on me. A tactic, I would later learn, that isolates victims, keeps them quiet & intimidated, while limiting their options for a police response, a lawsuit, or both. It also leaves the victim further susceptible to abuse.
One of those bullies was Assemblymember Rob Bonta’s then Chief of Staff. He visited me personally & called me on the phone, first posing with friendly advice: “We’ve been to war together, this isn’t how we handle family business.”
But then his instruction became more firm. He told me to drop my internal complaint. And like the others, he told me not to put anything in writing and not to retain my own attorney. Again, this was Assemblymember Rob Bonta’s then Chief of Staff.
He said if I did any of those things, Asm. Rob Bonta would withhold political contributions & political endorsements from my new boss, who was getting into a contentious Senate Race. He told me Bonta might even endorse another local guy over my boss, if I refused to “play ball.”
, I cannot find the words to describe the trauma, isolation, fear, betrayal, hopelessness & breathless pain in my chest that arrived when my abuser & enforcers like Rob Bonta, USED MY BOSS’S FUTURE as a bargaining chip to keep their misconduct buried.
There was no @WeSaidEnough to turn to. And the Speaker’s Office & HR joined in PRESSURING ME not to retain my own attorney. I remember Ron Pane from the Asm Sergeants telling me if I wanted to be a “team player” I’d use the Legislature’s Attorneys. “That’s what they’re here for.
I learned the hard way that the Legislature’s Attorneys aren’t there to protect staff, they exist to PROTECT THE “INSTITUTION”. My voice was silenced. Because, Mr. Gov, the sex abuse in that Institution is both conducted & buried by an ECOSYSTEM of abusers, enablers & enforcers.
Over the years, I’ve tried to reach out to Rob Bonta to discuss the nature of abuse in Sacramento & how it impacts victims. How it impacted me.
He has refused to listen. Instead, he’s gone on to provide political cover for my abuser, repackaging him as a God-fearing family man.
Governor @GavinNewsom, when Rob Bonta sent his COS in an attempt to intimidate me, prevent me from reporting abuse & prevent me from retaining my own attorney, that was obstruction of justice. That was witness intimidation. Rob Bonta is not worthy of your consideration for AG.
It is an open secret that sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and the intimidation tactics that go along with keeping them quiet are far too common in the California Legislature. So much so that in 2018, the Legislature put in place an entire system for responding to, and efforts to prevent, sexual harassment within its halls.
While it is not clear what Tahmasbi plans to do legally, after today’s announcement, it is clear her petitions to the governor fell on deaf ears.
Nevertheless, she persists in calling out the alleged behavior on social media and build her case in the court of public opinion:
Rob Bonta used his position of power to intimidate me from reporting years of sex abuse, threats & misconduct perpetrated by his friend, Alberto Torrico. Under Torrico's tenure & inc John Doherty & Dean Grafilo, Torrico's office was steeped in misconduct.https://t.co/lBu6FLeJGW https://t.co/fQEm6ykHOH
— Trisha (@Trisha_Tahmasbi) March 24, 2021
This is a year of political anomalies. Last year we could never imagined that we would be able to Recall the Governor. If these allegations prove true, we will see if it can derail a confirmation.