Assemblyman Jim Costa (D-Fresno), who was cited last Saturday for soliciting an act of prostitution, issued a printed public apology Thursday, admitting an "error in judgment."
"I am very human. I am here today to accept the blame for my action and to admit my mistake," Costa stated in a press release issued in Sacramento and read to reporters in Fresno, his hometown.
Costa was issued a citation and was ordered to appear in Sacramento Municipal Court on Sept. 22. A Costa aide, Terry Reardon, said the 34-year-old assemblyman will not contest the citation.
Shortly after the Legislature recessed for the weekend Saturday night, Costa and a 19-year-old prostitute, who were traveling in a state-leased car, approached another woman and allegedly agreed to pay her $50 for an act of prostitution, Sacramento police reported. The woman they solicited was wired with a hidden police transmitter, officials said.
Costa's companion, a convicted prostitute on probation, was arrested and booked into the county jail.
In his statement Thursday, Costa, a four-term legislator who is chairman of the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, said:
"I made the mistake. I accept full responsibility for my error in judgment on last Saturday. To my mother, my family and friends, my loyal supporters and the constituents of the (Fresno) Assembly district, I apologize. While I am not married, nor do I have children, nonetheless I have hurt the people I care the most about, the people in my district."
Costa's assembly district, which covers Fresno, Madera, Merced and Kings counties, is regarded as a Democratic stronghold. But the incident has sparked new enthusiasm at the campaign headquarters of Republican candidate Blaine T. Anderson, who is hoping to unseat Costa in the Nov. 4 election.
"We don't feel he can vote on moral issues when his own character is in question," said Al Halterman, Anderson's campaign manager. "We feel that the apology that occurred today should have occurred several days ago, rather than his constant denials."
Anderson called for Costa's resignation. Costa said he intends to "campaign vigorously" to retain the Assembly seat he won in 1978.