Why I am running for re-election

Four years ago, I was elected to serve in the State Senate by the voters of Southeast Los Angeles County, my home. I won despite a series of unfair attacks against my campaign and everything we’ve accomplished. Having previously served proudly in the State Assembly and the Artesia City Council, my record then and now has been to support the building of high quality public education, creating well-paying jobs, expanding and protecting health care, and improving public safety and equality for over 20 years. That record has been a target for Sacramento special interests and establishment leadership for years. But time and again my accomplishments have spoken for themselves and garnered the support of voters in my district. Once again, I put my record before those voters as I run for re-election.

I look forward to a productive debate about critical issues facing California, my community, the allegations made against me, and the facts. The truth is, the State Senate leadership circumvented its own process by not taking this matter before the Senate Ethics Committee. Instead, the Senate chose an arbitrary review process, with no precedent, which they made up along the way. Given the importance of the issue and the press attention, I accepted a voluntary leave of absence and was asked to trust the process. However, I was denied due process and my opportunity for rebuttal was limited. The Senate investigation established its own legal standard, in which it concluded that I “more likely than not” flirted. This, while noting contradictory witnesses and testimony. Aside from questions about the integrity of this new legal standard, I was never allowed to respond. I will now.

I have great remorse for making anyone feel uncomfortable or awkward. To the best of my knowledge, having not seen any charges against me, that is what I am accused of. Those were not my intentions and I am deeply sorry. After months of reflection, I am guilty of being a part of a male dominated Sacramento culture of power and privilege. Having three daughters of my own, I would never want them to be made to feel uncomfortable or awkward in any environment. It is an issue we must address and one I want to personally improve on and be part of the solution. This process has challenged me to reflect and think deeply about my responsibility as an elected official. For that I am grateful, and to anyone I may have offended, I apologize.

My resignation was not about the accusations. It became clear to me that the Senate leadership hoped to bury any issue regarding the behavior of legislators, including many of their own, by burying me. In fact, credible sources told me that my removal was a decision made by my political rivals in conjunction with Senate leadership, even before any reports came back from the review. In the end, my fate in “their” Senate club was sacrificed for their own political futures and to fade out public scrutiny. A fate which, I must note, is different from that of other legislators in similar situations.

I am not only running to clear my name, I am running to defend and continue fighting for the same issues I have always fought for. I am running to make my case to the voters of Senate District 32. I am running with the full support of my wife Letty, my family, and the support of hundreds of community and civic leaders that have stood by me, and more importantly want to see our work continue. Their support is not without reservation, and I understand that. But I have wholeheartedly committed to them that I have and will continue to learn and grow from this experience.

As I launch my re-election campaign, I will highlight the facts and reality that Senate District 32 boasts a strong job market, safe and thriving communities, and some of the best public schools in California. I have a strong legislative record I am proud of. In the end, I have faith in the voters. I ask that they look at our accomplishments, hear our plans, and listen to the facts. To those voters, I ask for their consideration and vote.