Gov. Newsom appoints Rob Bonta as California’s next attorney general, first Filipino American in that role

By Nicole Nixon/CapRadio

California State Assembly member Rob Bonta speaking at the Central Bay Operations and Maintenance Facility ribbon-cutting ceremony in December 2018 Photo by Pi.1415926535/Wikicommons

Gov. Gavin Newsom has nominated Assemblymember Rob Bonta as California’s next attorney general, filling the vacancy left by Xavier Becerra, who was confirmed to the Biden administration last week.

Bonta, a progressive East Bay Democrat, was elected to the Legislature in 2012 as the state’s first Filipino American lawmaker. Bonta’s nomination will require legislative confirmation.

“Rob represents what makes California great — our desire to take on righteous fights and reverse systematic injustices,” Newsom said. “At this moment when so many communities are under attack for who they are and who they love, Rob has fought to strengthen hate crime laws and protect our communities from the forces of hate.”

Bonta, who holds a law degree from Yale University, said he became a lawyer “because I saw the law as the best way to make a positive difference for the most people.”

“As California’s attorney general, I will work tirelessly every day to ensure that every Californian who has been wronged can find justice and that every person is treated fairly under the law,” he said.

In the Legislature, Bonta has supported bills to increase police oversight and accountability. In October he unveiled a proposal to require prosecutors who accept campaign donations from police unions to recuse themselves from investigations into police misconduct. 

The attorney general oversees more than 4,500 employees in California’s Department of Justice.

The office is now tasked with investigating police killings of unarmed civilians — tasks typically taken on by other local law enforcement agencies — under a bill approved last year. 

The AG pick marks the third high-profile appointment Newsom has made in recent months. In December, he appointed then-Secretary of State Alex Padilla to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Vice President Kamala Harris. He also named former Assemblymember Shirley Weber to replace Padilla.

Newsom has faced enormous pressure in filing the high-profile vacancies from groups lobbying their preferred candidates behind closed doors.

The push to appoint a person from the API community intensified after last week’s shootings in the Atlanta area, which targeted Asian-owned personal care businesses. Six of the eight victims were women of Asian descent.

Other names reportedly under consideration included Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu, Rep. Adam Schiff and Equality California director Rick Zbur.