Applicant

Attorney General of California

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Applicant Rob Bonta is asking you to hire him for the role of Attorney General, which pays $189,841 per year. His resume:

Rob Bonta

California Attorney General

Professional Profile

Rob Bonta likes to say that a passion for social justice is hardcoded into his DNA. It’s a family story he’s repeated throughout his political career: His dad, a white man from California, marched with Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma. His mom protested the dictatorial Marcos regime in the Philippines before emigrating to the United States and fighting for civil rights and Filipino empowerment. For a spell, the entire family lived in a trailer in Keene organizing Central Valley farm workers alongside Cesar Chavez. 

Ambitious and brainy, Bonta went to Yale, Oxford and then back to Yale to get his law degree. But politics was never far from his legal career path. After a few years in private practice, he joined the San Francisco city attorney’s office, where he worked on the office’s complex litigation team. But on the side he found time to moonlight as a campaign manager for a local politico and building his brand within the Bay Area Democratic Party. Bonta’s star ascended quickly; he has never lost an election. But as an appointee to the top job at the Department of Justice, he hasn’t won this one either. He’d like to change that.

Experience

California Attorney General (appointed)

2021-2022

Named by Gov. Gavin Newsom as the first Filipino-American to hold the office, replacing Xavier Becerra, who left to run the Biden administration’s Department of Health and Human Services. 

In response to a state law that he co-authored while in the Assembly, set up a new team within the Department of Justice to investigate local police officers when they kill unarmed civilians.

Threatened cities including Woodside, Pasadena and Encinitas with legal action for attempting to circumvent a new zoning law allowing more housing construction.

Sponsored legislation that would make gun sellers and manufacturers legally liable if they fail to implement “reasonable controls” to ensure that their products aren’t misused.

California Assemblymember

2012-2021

The first Filipino-American to join the state Legislature, Bonta served as one of the body’s most liberal members, authoring laws to ban privately run immigration detention facilities, make it easier for local school districts to deny charter school applications and put an end to cash bail — though that legislation was reversed by voters in 2020.

Also introduced ambitious progressive proposals that went nowhere, such as a wealth tax on the super rich, a “California Green New Deal” and a right to housing under the state constitution. 

Created a charitable foundation, funded by contributions from powerful California interest groups, which in turn provided funding to the nonprofit that was run by his wife, now Assemblymember Mia Bonta.

Alameda city councilmember

2010-2012

Represented the Bay Area island town, while also sitting on the city’s economic development commission and the Alameda County Transportation Commission.

Announced his campaign to run for Assembly six months after joining the council.

Faced a recall attempt after he voted to allow more apartment construction on the island, but won his Assembly bid before the campaign could gather steam.

References

  • Gov. Gavin Newsom
  • Brady PAC
  • California Teachers Association
  • California Correctional Peace Officers Association

Fun Fact

Bonta is a mean soccer player. As an undergraduate, he was the captain of the Yale varsity team and was named the school’s best male athlete as a senior. Fresh out of law school, he briefly played for San Francisco’s A-League soccer club, the Bay Seals.

“I see the job of Attorney General as the people’s attorney: to fight on behalf of those who are wronged, to get justice for families cheated by multinational corporations, to defend communities ravaged by big polluters, to repair our broken criminal justice system and to attack the forces of hate and white supremacy.”

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Here’s where Rob Bonta, applicant for attorney general, stands on the big questions about California crime, justice and law. Answers are from written responses his campaign provided:

Key Topics
Where Rob Bonta Stands on the Issues
Crime
Death Penalty
Guns
Internet and social media
Miscellaneous

Californians are increasingly concerned about crime, though the numbers paint a more complicated picture. Republicans blame voter-approved Proposition 47, which eight years ago lowered some crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. While Democrats are talking tough, they’re not proposing a return to longer prison sentences. After several high-profile cases of police killings of Black men and the George Floyd case, the California attorney general’s office now investigates all killings of unarmed civilians by law enforcement officers.

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What two initiatives would you pursue first to address the growing public concern about crime?

Public safety is job number one, two and three.” He emphasized programs to reduce gun violence by prosecuting street gangs, investing in violence intervention programs and enforcing the state’s strict gun laws. He also pledged to continue focusing on violent crime and putting more resources toward prosecution and victim services.

Do you support making significant changes to or outright repealing Proposition 47?

He said he is “open to any discussion on how we might be able to strengthen our state’s criminal justice system,” but stressed that current law has already allowed the state Department of Justice to break up multiple major retail theft rings.

Do you support the new state law that requires the Attorney General to investigate when a police officer kills an unarmed civilian? Are there any changes you would seek in the law?

Bonta authored the law as a legislator. “We are showing up, doing the work that needs to get done, and adding a critical layer of accountability.”

California voters have repeatedly supported keeping capital punishment, but Gov. Gavin Newsom imposed a moratorium in 2019. Now, legislators and advocates are trying to pare back the death penalty with more piecemeal proposals.

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Do you support the death penalty?

No. “It is both irreversible and it is fallible. There is no way to undo it when mistakes are made.” While he said he supports the governor’s moratorium, he said he would enforce existing law.

California has some of the country’s strictest gun laws. But Gov. Newsom and others want to pass more, namely to allow private citizens to sue gun manufacturers over illegal assault weapons and “ghost guns” — a proposal patterned after the Texas abortion law. A law already on the books — banning felons and domestic abusers from having weapons — is under scrutiny for its deadly failures.  

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Do you support legislation that would give citizens the right to bring a private lawsuit against gun sellers or gun manufacturers who violate state gun laws?

Yes. He called it a “creative” way to address the scourge of gun violence. He notes that the prohibitions on “assault weapons” and “ghost guns” are permitted by the U.S. Constitution, while an effective ban on abortion is not.

How would you improve enforcement of laws prohibiting felons and domestic abusers from having weapons?

Bonta said his office has urged the Legislature to provide more funding to local police and court systems to remove weapons from prohibited persons. “You do that right, and you get guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them immediately.” He also said the Department of Justice needs more funding to reduce turnover and to modernize the state’s firearms databases.

The state is building a new agency to regulate Google, Facebook and other internet giants. A bill before the Legislature would hold social media companies liable for promoting apps and features that addict and damage kids’ mental health.

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Should the attorney general do more to protect privacy and children on the internet and social media? If so, what?

“I’m committed to holding social media companies accountable, particularly when their actions may cause harm to California’s youngest residents.” He pointed to ongoing investigations his office launched against TikTok and Meta, the parent company of Instagram.

California’s Democratic leaders are positioning the state as a sanctuary for people seeking abortions should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn Roe vs. Wade later this year. Hate crimes against Asian Americans jumped during the pandemic, with reported incidents doubling in 2020. Several California cities are rebelling against laws meant to boost affordable housing. And Native American tribes and national betting giants are gearing up for a high-stakes ballot measure fight over online sports gambling.

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Should California become a sanctuary for abortion rights?

Yes. He said he supports efforts to ensure that California becomes “a safe harbor for millions of Americans seeking access to basic reproductive healthcare…I’m going to use every tool at my disposal to defend our freedom as I fight these abortion bans and stand up for reproductive freedom.”

Should the state enact additional hate crimes protections or increased penalties?

He said that he was open to the idea. For now, he said prosecution of existing hate crime laws should be beefed up with the creation of “specialized hate crime units” with local D.A. offices.

What specific actions would you support to enforce affordable housing laws and goals, if any?

Last November, the Department of Justice created a housing strike force to monitor compliance with state housing and zoning laws. “My message to local governments is simple: Act in good faith, follow the law, and do your part to increase the housing supply. If you don’t, my office won’t stand idly by.”

Support allowing online sports betting, including by FanDuel and Draft Kings?