Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra needs to “think long and hard” and decide whether he should resign after the recent revelation that he was disciplined eight years ago for allegedly groping another legislative staff member, the head of California’s Democratic Party said Wednesday.
“I think that Assemblyman Bocanegra needs to look at his own heart and decide what he’s going to do,” state party chair Eric Bauman said in an appearance at The Sacramento Press Club. “Where he stands right now is a very difficult position. He’s going to have to think long and hard about what he does.”
Bauman noted that if the Los Angeles Democrat steps down, his district would be without representation for the rest of the year.
Longtime legislative aide Elise Flynn Gyore said publicly last week that Bocanegra, then a legislative chief of staff, stalked her at an after-hours event in 2009 and grabbed her underneath her clothes. Following an internal investigation, Bocanegra was ordered to stay away from Gyore, but three years later, he was elected to the Assembly for the first time with widespread support. Bocanegra apologized in a statement last week.
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Bauman spoke as a group of women, including the former lawmaker he defeated in the 2016 election, were scheduled to hold a demonstration outside Bocanegra’s district office at noon to demand his resignation.
The chairman also said he supports legislation, long stalled in the Democratic-controlled state Senate, that would offer whistleblower protection to legislative employees. He said the measure should be changed to specifically mention sexual harassment.
“Nobody should go to work and be in fear...because a bully or harasser is coming,” he said.
Bauman declined to say whether the state party would recommend against endorsing Bocanegra for re-election, saying the delegates in his district will have to make that decision.
Ultimately, he said, Bocanegra will have to decide whether he can continue to be effective after acknowledging and apologizing for his behavior.
“He’s got to figure out how he best...atones for that.”