Capitol Alert

California lawmaker faces calls to resign over Capitol groping incident

Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, D-Los Angeles, speaks at the Capitol on May 4, 2017.
Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, D-Los Angeles, speaks at the Capitol on May 4, 2017. The Associated Press

Aside from a statement by leaders of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus urging the Assembly to review his behavior, Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra’s colleagues have largely stayed silent about the recent revelation that he was disciplined eight years ago, as a Capitol chief of staff, for allegedly groping another legislative staff member.

Outside of the Legislature, however, calls are beginning for the Los Angeles Democrat to resign.

The Los Angeles Daily News this week, in an editorial, urged Bocanegra to step down from his seat, writing that he “cannot be taken seriously as a representative of the people who elected him without this knowledge.”

Now a group of women who live in his San Fernando Valley-based district, including the former lawmaker he defeated in the 2016 election, are adding their voices to the chorus. They will hold a demonstration outside Bocanegra’s Arleta district office at noon, demanding his resignation and sharing their own stories of sexual harassment and abuse.

Bonnie Corwin, one of the participants, said she was shocked to read about what Bocanegra did and that he only received a “slap on the hand’ from the Legislature. She said it resonated with her as someone who has experienced sexual harassment in “almost every corporate job I’ve had.”

Longtime legislative staffer Elise Flynn Gyore publicly shared for the first time last week that Bocanegra stalked her around an event in 2009 and grabbed her underneath her clothes. Following an internal investigation, Bocanegra was ordered to stay away from Gyore, but three years later, he was elected to the Assembly for the first time with widespread support. Bocanegra apologized to Gyore in a statement last week.

“We believe it’s the right thing for him to do to step down, because this was a pretty egregious act and covered up,” Corwin said. “Just to climb up the political ladder with no ramifications at all, he shouldn’t be able do that.”

Former Assemblywoman Patty Lopez, a fellow Democrat who took out Bocanegra in a stunning upset in 2014 and then lost to him last November, is also slated to attend the rally. A former campaign staff member for Lopez said she is disturbed by what happened with Bocanegra, but that she has no intention to run again for his seat.

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Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff