Contests to replace two Democratic San Fernando Valley state assemblymen who resigned amid accusations of sexual misconduct are headed to a June primary with Democrats favored to keep both seats.
Democrats Luz Rivas and Jesse Gabriel each won the most votes in their respective races to fill the remaining terms of former Assemblymen Raul Bocanegra and Matt Dababneh in the heavily Democratic districts, according to initial but still unofficial results.
Rivas, a 44-year-old science educator and Los Angeles Public Works Commissioner, beat out four other Democrats on the ballot with 41% of the vote. She will face No. 2 finisher Republican plumbing and electrical contractor Ricardo Benitez, 60, who claimed 21% of the vote in the race to replace Bocanegra.
Unofficial returns on Tuesday showed her winning almost two-thirds of the votes cast for any of the four candidates on the ballot in the 54th Assembly District — more than enough needed to win the job outright without a runoff election.
A former legislative aide sued the California Senate and recently resigned Sen. Tony Mendoza on Tuesday, alleging she was wrongfully terminated in retaliation for complaining about Mendoza’s alleged sexual harassment of a young female staff member.
Mendoza, a Democrat from Artesia, resigned in February under threat that the Senate would expel him after an investigation concluded that he made six female aides uncomfortable with a pattern of "unwanted flirtatious or sexually suggestive behavior." He has denied wrongdoing and is running in the June election to reclaim his seat.
Adriana Ruelas, who filed the lawsuit in Sacramento Superior Court, was the legislative director for Mendoza when he terminated her in September. She was not one of the women allegedly sexually harassed.
Matt Dababneh, the former Democratic assemblyman who resigned last year amid allegations of sexual misconduct, has opened a new fundraising committee that would enable him to tap into previously raised campaign cash.
Dababneh, who represented Woodland Hills from 2013 through 2017, stepped down at the end of last year after being accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women, including a female lobbyist who said he masturbated in front of her. Dababneh denied any wrongdoing but resigned in December, saying the current environment made it too difficult to do his job. A legislative investigation into those claims is ongoing.
A prolific fundraiser, Dababneh had more than $1.1 million in his reelection account as of January. Under campaign finance law, those funds would become “surplus” 90 days after he left office. Surplus funds are restricted in how they can be used, such as paying off debts or refunding contributors. They cannot be used for future elections.
GOP gubernatorial candidate John Cox launched a radio ad in the Central Valley on Monday blasting Democratic rival Antonio Villaraigosa over his support for high-speed rail.
“L.A. Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa would spend billions on the bullet train because - quote – ‘it connects the two engines of the California economy.’ Apparently, Mr. Villaraigosa doesn’t realize that the Central Valley is home to another economic engine – one that actually produces something,” Cox says in the 60-second ad. “It’s called California agriculture, and it’s feeding the world.”
That prompted a Saturday morning rebuke from Trump, who used the nickname “Moonbeam,” which has dogged Brown since a newspaper columnist called him that in the 1970s.
Governor Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown pardoned 5 criminal illegal aliens whose crimes include (1) Kidnapping and Robbery (2) Badly beating wife and threatening a crime with intent to terrorize (3) Dealing drugs. Is this really what the great people of California want? @FoxNews
State officials on Monday proposed expanding a task force that has gone after tax scofflaws operating in the underground economy in Los Angeles and Sacramento, saying California continues to lose billions of dollars in revenue from the illicit activity.
The underground economy is made up of unlicensed individuals and businesses selling services and goods that are often counterfeited, without paying the state income or sales taxes, or paying legally required wages and benefits to employees.
Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra said he supports legislation that would expand the Tax Recovery and Criminal Enforcement Task Force, a pilot project in the state Department of Justice, to also operate in San Diego, the San Francisco Bay Area and the San Joaquin Valley.
Five immigrants with criminal records who face possible deportation were pardoned by California Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday, continuing his tradition of granting clemency around the Easter holiday.
The five individuals were among 56 pardons granted by Brown, as well as 14 sentence commutations for current inmates.
Brown’s inclusion of those at risk of deportation — which he has now done for several rounds of pardons — is yet another sign of how California has diverged on immigration from the federal government, which has increased arrests and detentions under President Trump.