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    California Attorney General’s Wife to Lead Committee That Oversees His Budget

    By Ashley Zavala

    California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s wife, Assemblymember Mia Bonta, has been tapped to lead a budget committee that oversees and helps determine his agency’s spending, a decision that some political experts say is ethically questionable.

    Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, recently appointed Mia Bonta, as the chairwoman of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee 5, which focuses on how taxpayer dollars are used on the state’s various public safety agencies, including the California Department of Justice. Both Bontas are Democrats.

    “It should raise eyebrows,” said Bob Stern, former general counsel for the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission. “What’s going on with them? It seems to me they have a tin ear about ethics.”

    “I believe Ms. Bonta will continue to be independent and unbiased in her legislative judgment, as she has been since starting her service in the Assembly,” Speaker Rendon said in a statement, defending his decision. “The Legislature has a robust and transparent budget process, designed with checks and balances to ensure the best possible budget is passed. Our final Assembly budget proposal must be identical to the Senate, and will be approved or vetoed by the governor. Additionally, we can’t set salaries or benefits for state constitutional officers, so no elected official can ever personally or financially benefit from our budget process,” he said.

    Assemblymember Bonta told KCRA 3 in a statement she was honored when the Speaker picked her to lead the committee and noted she does not have any unilateral authority to make budget allocation decisions.

    “My district is home to the City of Oakland, where gun violence disproportionately ravages communities of color. I have made promoting public safety and reducing recidivism legislative priorities of mine, as these issues are critically important to my constituents,”she said.

    “The suggestion of a conflict of interest shows a lack of understanding about the legislative process. My focus is on continuing to fight for safe communities with an unbiased lens and unwavering commitment my constituents expect, and I look forward to taking on this work with my colleagues in the Assembly, State Senate, and Governor’s administration,” Bonta said.

    The Attorney General’s office referred KCRA 3 to the Assembly for comment.

    Mary-Beth Moylan, a law professor at the University of Pacific, noted the situation does not break any laws.

    “One of the things we worry about with respect to conflicts of interest is not only whether it violates the letter of the law, but whether there’s an appearance of impropriety and whether there’s the idea there would be some distrust in the government,” Moylan said.

    Moylan added that it might be difficult for Bonta to recuse herself from decisions having to do with the Department of Justice, noting it’s an important piece of the committee’s work.

    “If she did recuse herself on that, I think people would still feel like, ‘Well she’s the chair,’ she may still have influence over other members who are on the committee,” Moylan said.

    This situation would not be the first time the Bontas have been in an ethically questionable situation. In 2020, CalMatters reported Rob Bonta, who was an Assemblyman at the time, created a foundation that contributed thousands of dollars to a non-profit where Mia was CEO. Stern at the time said the transaction should’ve been illegal. The FPPC has since tightened regulations and requires more transparency in situations such as this one.

    Stern said said Thursday that the situation coupled with the budget subcommittee situation “should raise two eyebrows.”

    Rob Bonta first became attorney general after Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed him to the open seat in 2021. His wife then took his open Oakland-area Assembly seat in a special election that year. Campaign finance reports show Bonta’s attorney general campaign has provided $14,940 to his wife’s campaigns for State Assembly. Stern said this happens all the time and isn’t troubled by it.

    “But these other two instances I am troubled by,” he said. “Particularly as attorney general, he should have the highest ethical standards of any government official.”

    Click here to read the full article at


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