California state Senator Bob Hertzberg, a lawmaker apparently known for his hugs to both co-workers and the general public, is now being asked to stop amid an investigation into sexual harassment claims.
The Democrat from Los Angeles has been accused of crossing a line with his hugs, with some politicians calling them “uncomfortable and unwelcome.” Now, the California Senate Rules Committee has issued a formal statement to the senator disallowing hugs moving forward after three or more lawmakers have said the hugs were actually sexual harassment.
One of the lawmakers coming forward about her encounter is former Assemblywoman Linda Halderman, who said Hertzberg hugged her without asking permission in 2010 in the Capitol hallway.
The investigation committee ultimately dismissed the claims, calling them “unsubstantiated” after Halderman said she did not feel comfortable talking with the hired investigative team about the encounter. However, the California Senate has asked Hertzberg to stop hugging without permission, according to a new report.
“After two months of thorough investigation, the claim brought forward in December was not supported. Even so, I understand that I cannot control how a hug is received, and that not everyone has the ability to speak up about unwelcome behavior,” Hertzberg said in a statement.
“It is my responsibility to be mindful of this, and to respect the Rules Committee’s request to not initiate hugs,” he continued.
The lawmaker even had pins made years back that he gave out to the public that read, “I was hugged by Assemblymember Bob Hertzberg.”
Hertzberg said in a note to emailed to co-workers that his “motivation for hugging is not sexual in nature.”
“All my life, a hug has been a way of greeting friends and colleagues – a gesture of warmth and kindness and a reflection of my exuberance,” he said in the email.
- More from the Sac Bee
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