SAN FERNANDO (CNS) - In response to sexual harassment allegations against him, San Fernando Valley Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra announced Monday he will not seek re-election.
Bocanegra, D-San Fernando, said he will step down from the Assembly post on Sept. 1, 2018, and he is "suspending my campaign and will not run for reelection.''
"As you may know, news stories were reported a few weeks ago about a regrettable encounter when I was a legislative staffer in 2009,'' he said. "It was a moment that I truly regret, that I am very sorry for, and for which I have accepted responsibility for my actions. These news reports have since fueled persistent rumors and speculation, and I do not believe that this is in the best interest of my constituents to continue to serve next term.''
The Los Angeles Times reported last month that Bocanegra was disciplined in 2009 after a female Capitol staffer accused him of "inappropriate and unwelcome physical contact'' while he was a chief of staff.
Bocanegra's announcement Monday came just ahead of another Times story, in which six women accuse Bocanegra of sexual harassment. According to The Times, the women's allegations were presented to the assemblyman's office Friday afternoon.
"I have sought counsel from community members and constituents,'' Bocanegra said Monday. "After much discussion and reflection, the most prudent decision to avoid another costly special election in Los Angeles and ensure our community is not left without any representation in the state Assembly would be for me to resign at the end of the legislative session. I will spend this time focusing my energy on serving my constituents.
"This is a very difficult decision. But I know that it is the best decision for the Northeast Valley residents.''
Bocanegra said he would be giving up his leadership positions in the Assembly. Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, said Monday afternoon he was removing Bocanegra from his position as majority whip and from all of his committee assignments. He also asked Assembly Human Resources officials to reach out to Bocanegra's office staff to ensure "they feel safe.'' An independent investigation is being conducted into allegations against Bocanegra, Rendon said.
"The decision to deny constituents the representation of their elected official can be a difficult one, but make no mistake: If the investigation affirms the allegations, I will move to immediately expel Mr. Bocanegra from the Assembly,'' Rendon said.