Asm. Mia Bonta, the wife of California Attorney General Rob Bonta, is recusing herself from any Assembly Budget Subcommittee 5 matters that directly pertain to the state Department of Justice.
The decision comes after more than a week’s worth of intensescrutiny from her fellow lawmakers and the media regarding her role being a conflict of interest.
The backstory: Bonta was appointed by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D–Paramount) as the chairwoman of the budget committee earlier this month.
- Assembly Budget Subcommittee 5 oversees the budget of the California Department of Justice.
- Rendon initially defended the appointment saying he believed Bonta would be independent and unbiased.
Driving the news: Last week, KCRA reporter Ashley Zavala pressed Bonta about her position as chairwoman and the appearance of a conflict of interest, but Bonta declined to answer and instead provided statements to other news outlets claiming that she was being targeted because of racism and sexism.
- When Zavala approached Bonta after the floor session of the Assembly last Friday, Bonta declined to participate in an interview, instead making a statement saying she is not violating any ethical rules and that her district is highly impacted by gun violence.
- Bonta went on to tell Zavala to air her statement “to offer truth” and again declined to say if she would recuse herself from all budget items concerning the Department of Justice.
State of play: By Sunday, Bonta reversed course and released a statement saying she will recuse herself from all matters directly pertaining to the Department of Justice, including budget change proposals, proposed trailer bills and legislative budget proposals.
- However, Bonta has not shared any details for her recusal and declined to comment on what exactly it will look like.
What they’re saying: In her statement, Bonta said her recusal will ensure that the legislature can focus on the work ahead of them.
- “While it has been made abundantly clear that there is no legal or ethical conflict in my serving as Chair of Budget Subcommittee 5 as requested by the Speaker, I believe as legislators we have an obligation to ensure the people of California have absolute confidence in the legislative process,” Bonta said.