By David M. Greenwald
San Francisco, CA – In a move that will no doubt please progressives and came as a shock to many, Governor Gavin Newsom announced the appointment of Assemblymember Rob Bonta as the next Attorney General, filling the seat vacated by Xavier Becerra.
A reformer in the legislature who began his career in John Kekar’s prestigious San Francisco law firm and went to the City Attorney’s Office before being elected to the Assembly, Bonta, assuming his nomination is confirmed by a state legislature overwhelmingly Democratic, would become the first Filipino American to serve as California Attorney General.
“Throughout his career in public service, Assemblymember Bonta has taken on big fights to reverse historic injustice – many affecting communities of color. He has been a leader in the fight to reform our justice system and stand up to the forces of hate,” the Governor’s office said in their release.
“Rob represents what makes California great – our desire to take on righteous fights and reverse systematic injustices,” said Governor Newsom.
“Growing up with parents steeped in social justice movements, Rob has become a national leader in the fight to repair our justice system and defend the rights of every Californian. And most importantly, at this moment when so many communities are under attack for who they are and who they love, Rob has fought to strengthen hate crime laws and protect our communities from the forces of hate. He will be a phenomenal Attorney General, and I can’t wait to see him get to work.”
Assemblymember Rob Bonta was elected to the California State Assembly’s 18th District in 2012, where he represents the cities of Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro. He became the first Filipino American state legislator in California’s then 160-plus-year history.
“Thank you, Governor. I am humbled by the confidence you have placed in me,” said Bonta. “I became a lawyer because I saw the law as the best way to make a positive difference for the most people, and it would be an honor of a lifetime to serve as the attorney for the people of this great state. As California’s Attorney General, I will work tirelessly every day to ensure that every Californian who has been wronged can find justice and that every person is treated fairly under the law.”
Elected to the State legislature as the first Filipino-American in California history, he has become “a statewide leader in the fights for racial, economic and environmental justice, advancing reforms that put California on the cutting edge.”
SF DA Chesa Boudin, a leading reformer, was excited by the pick.
“Assemblymember Bonta has been a leader in the fight for criminal justice reform and we have partnered on reforms together. I commend @GavinNewsom for this fantastic selection!” Boudin tweeted.
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón was also excited about the pick.
“I commend Governor Gavin Newsom on his selection of Rob Bonta to be California’s next attorney general,” District Attorney Gascón said. “As evidenced by his prolific authorship and support for reform-minded policies in the legislature, Mr. Bonta shares a commitment to safety, equity, rehabilitation and redemption that will serve the interests and well-being of all Californians as we work to modernize a dated system of justice.”
He noted, “The governor’s selection of Mr. Bonta also comes at a particularly difficult time for our AAPI community as elected and law enforcement leaders across the nation are working to #StopAsianHate.
“That California’s chief law enforcement official is a member of the AAPI community speaks volumes to the Golden State’s commitment to advance tolerance and inclusion and end the violence visited against vulnerable members of our community.”
Senator Nancy Skinner was also excited by the pick, issuing a statement stating, “I’m confident that Attorney General Bonta will continue his record as a progressive champion and will work tirelessly to address racial and economic disparities and inequities in our justice system.”
Senator Scott Wiener added, “He’s a tenacious, thoughtful, and progressive leader. He’ll do great things as Attorney General. I look forward to seeing what he accomplishes in this important role.”
Among his legislative accomplishments:
Outlawed For-Profit Prisons in California: Bonta authored legislation that made California the first in the nation to ban for-profit prisons and immigration detention centers.
Led Major Sentencing Overhaul Effort: Following statewide marijuana legalization, Bonta authored the California law to automatically expunge and modify criminal records for people convicted of minor marijuana charges.
Took on Big Polluters: Bonta authored major environmental justice legislation and has been a leader in the fight against climate change and to ensure every community equitably benefits from our green economy.
Passed Nation’s Strongest Statewide Renter Protections: Bonta led the fight to pass statewide protections for renters, ultimately resulting in the nation’s strongest protections against wrongful evictions.
Fought to Strengthen Hate Crime Laws & Protect Communities: Bonta has introduced a number of bills to improve hate crime statutes, support victims of hate violence, and build bridges between law enforcement and targeted communities.
Protected Immigrant Families from Deceptive ICE Tactics: Bonta authored first-of-its-kind legislation requiring immigrants to be informed of their rights before speaking to ICE agents.
Sought to End Predatory Bail Laws: Bonta co-wrote the law that sought to end the racist and predatory for-profit bail system.
Required Independent Investigations of Unarmed Deaths: Bonta co-authored the law that required an independent investigation when there is a death of an unarmed civilian by law enforcement.
—David M. Greenwald reporting
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