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California attorney general's wife to lead DOJ oversight

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Posted at 8:16 PM, Feb 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-10 23:16:46-05

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Attorney General Rob Bonta's wife will lead a legislative subcommittee that oversees his budget.

KCRA reports Assemblymember Mia Bonta, a Democrat, will lead Assembly Budget Subcommittee 5, which oversees public safety spending. That includes the California Department of Justice, which is led by Rob Bonta.

University of Pacific law professor Mary-Beth Moylan said it's not illegal for Bonta to chair a subcommittee that oversees her husband's budget. But Bob Stern, former general counsel for the California Fair Political Practices Commission, said “it should raise eyebrows.”

“What's going on with them? It seems to me they have a tin ear about ethics,” Stern told the station.

Democratic Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon appointed Mia Bonta to the position. Rendon said the Legislature's budget process was “designed with checks and balances to ensure the best possible budget is passed.” He noted the Assembly and Senate must agree on a budget, which then must be either signed or vetoed by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. He also said the Legislature does not set salaries or benefits for state constitutional officers such as Rob Bonta.

“No elected official can ever personally or financially benefit from our budget process,” Rendon said, adding that he believes Mia Bonta “will continue to be independent and unbiased in her legislative judgment.”

Mia Bonta told KCRA she was honored to lead the committee and said she does not have authority to make budget allocation decisions. She said public safety and reducing recidivism have been her priorities in the Legislature.

“The suggestion of a conflict of interest shows a lack of understanding about the legislative process. My focus is on continuing to fight for safe communities with an unbiased lens and unwavering commitment my constituents expect, and I look forward to taking on this work with my colleagues in the Assembly, State Senate, and Governor's administration,” Bonta said.

The budget subcommittee is scheduled to discuss the Department of Justice's budget on March 27.