Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that the phone call Wednesday between Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez and comic actor Rob Schneider played out on social media.
Gonzalez, a San Diego Democrat, is a co-author of a bill by Sen. Richard Pan that would require more school kids to get vaccines by eliminating their parents’ ability to opt out based on their personal beliefs. Schneider, the comedian who played a male gigolo in the Deuce Bigalow movies, is a vaccine opponent who lobbied against a different vaccine bill in 2012. Both of them are active on Twitter. The actor has more followers than the assemblywoman, but he hasn’t made the headlines for his social media use, as Gonzalez did with last year’s deleted-tweet debacle.
Later on that day, she took to Facebook and wrote the following:
“So...we received a phone call from Rob Schneider today where he threatened my staff that he would spend a lot of money against me because of my co-authorship of a bill to increase vaccine rates. When I called him back he was actually much nicer to me, but let’s be honest...that is 20 mins of my life I’ll never get back arguing that vaccines don’t cause autism with Deuce Bigalow, male gigolo. #vaccinateyourkids”
The Bee called Schneider Thursday and asked about his threat to put money toward running Gonzalez out of office.
“That wasn’t me,” he said. “There are people who can call and say whatever they want. But that was not me.”
Schneider said he talked to Gonzalez about his views on vaccine requirements and that she “seems to be a very conscientious assembly member.” But he said he never left a message threatening to campaign against her.
Gonzalez’s chief of staff Evan McLaughlin revisited the original message he got following Schneider’s call to the office. It said Schneider asked for a call back from Gonzalez and said he “would throw money to defeat her.” The caller left a phone number, the same one where The Bee reached Schneider on Thursday.
When Schneider came to Sacramento in 2012 to lobby against an earlier vaccine bill Pan carried, he threatened to spend money to throw Pan out of office after a meeting in the Capitol, said Crystal Strait, Pan’s chief of staff.
“When he was leaving, he started telling me this was really a bad idea for my boss to work on that, and that if he would continue to work on it, he would spend as much money as he could to make sure (Pan) loses his next election,” Strait said.
That fall, Schneider performed at a fundraiser for Pan’s Republican opponent, Tony Amador.
Call Laurel Rosenhall, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1083. Follow her on Twitter @LaurelRosenhall.