Assembly Democrat Todd Gloria, running to replace termed-out Republican Kevin Faulconer for San Diego mayor next year, has plenty of support among his legislative colleagues, judging by the ex-city councilman's campaign finance report filed with the city clerk July 31.
No fewer than 16 assembly members came up with a total of $9050 during the first half of the year, the data shows, with three of them – Democrats Kansen Chu of San Jose and Eloise Gomez Reyes of Grand Terrace, along with Diamond Bar Republican Phillip Chen – kicking in the primary maximum, $1150.
Other Sacramento players backing Gloria included state Senate Democrat Robert Hertzberg, who contributed $1050 to Gloria's mayoral fund on January 10. But the donation was subsequently refunded by the campaign to Hertzberg on Saturday, June 30, the final day of the disclosure period, the filing shows.
In March, Hertzberg faced a sexual-harassment scandal when he was reprimanded by the Senate Rules Committee for excessive hugging of three women lawmakers and a male sergeant at arms.
"You cannot solve the problem by asking someone if a hug is unwelcome or welcome because a person may not feel comfortable telling you it is unwelcome," the Senate Rules Committee wrote to Hertzberg in a March 8 letter reported by the Sacramento Bee. "Any further similar behavior will result in the Rules Committee recommending more severe discipline."
Republican ex-Assemblywoman Linda Halderman had charged last December that Hertzberg "pinned her in his arms and thrust his groin into her," the paper reported, "describing the encounter in a Capitol hallway shortly after she was elected in 2010 as an assault. Two sitting lawmakers came forward and said Hertzberg's hugs crossed a line for them, too."
Following the sanction, the Los Angeles Democrat dispatched a letter apologizing for offending anyone but said no foul play was intended. "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," it said.
Sexual harassment has become a sensitive area for Gloria following the ongoing scandal that has engulfed Kevin Beiser, once a political intimate and Gloria fundraising powerhouse before the San Diego school board member was accused of groping and otherwise harassing four young male campaign workers.
When word surfaced of the accusations, Gloria joined state Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins, along with San Diego city council members Georgette Gómez, Jennifer Campbell and Chris Ward, all Democrats, in calling for Beiser's resignation.
"As LGBT elected officials who are committed to changing the overarching cultural and political climate to prevent sexual harassment, we want to ensure that every complaint is fully investigated and appropriately decided," said a statement issued by the officials.
"That said, even following the principles of due process, there are cases, especially those with multiple and severe allegations, where the obvious right thing is for the accused to step away from their position."
Besides the legislative politicos, a host of state capitol insiders and lobbyists gave big to Gloria's mayoral bid during the period, including David Topp, director of state government affairs for Abbott Labs and Democratic political consultant David Pruit, who each came up with $1150.
In all, the Gloria campaign raised $637,522 in cash, closing the period with total cash in the bank of $474,735, the disclosure statement shows.