Sen. Ben Hueso, meet your homepage.
In a presumably sober moment, the San Diego Democrat posted wise advice on his website: “The law and common sense make it absolutely clear that driving any vehicle after drinking is a critical mistake. A DUI crash or arrest can be avoided in a number of ways: not drinking, riding with a designated, sober driver, using public transportation, calling a taxi or staying where you are for the night.” The California Highway Patrol logo was alongside the helpful hint.
Last week, Hueso was arrested on drunken driving charges after a night of partying at a restaurant and on the balcony outside the Assembly chambers.
In this age of social media, one of Hueso’s colleagues, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, thought it amusing to tweet a photo of Hueso and other members of the Legislature enjoying libations on the Assembly balcony, under the caption of “Yes .... Loving my Latino Caucus boys.” This tweet went out a few hours before Hueso was popped for allegedly being above the legal limit for blood alcohol while driving.
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As Hueso left the Sacramento County jail he told reporters that he had a “right to pursue my innocence, and that’s what I am going to do.” Less than an hour later, probably after having been given more sober advice by handlers, he pivoted: “I am truly and profoundly sorry for the unacceptably poor personal judgment which I demonstrated last night. I accept complete personal responsibility for my actions and any punishments that come my way as a result of this incident.”
Former Assembly Speaker Jesse Unruh observed that legislators inexplicably considered themselves invisible. They’re not. This lack of invisibility is exponentially more true today, when their colleagues can post seemingly innocuous photos that turn into memes.
We suspect Unruh wouldn’t like Twitter much. Nor would many members of that earlier generation of California leadership. This generation should know better.
It is not illegal to consume alcohol in the Capitol, but legislators should conduct themselves when they are on the balcony outside the people’s house as if a tour group of school kids was watching their behavior.
In the Twitterverse, you never know who might be watching, posting on Pinterest, doing a quick six-second Vine video, or otherwise showing our elected representatives to be saying one thing and doing the other.
Hueso’s arrest is another in a series of stumbles or felonies for the California Senate. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg must be getting weary of giving exasperated statements about missteps of his wayward flock. As for Hueso, he should read his website one more time. It’s not invisible.