California assemblywoman Mia Bonta (D.), the wife of California’s attorney general, on Tuesday unilaterally killed a bill that would raise sentencing for violent crimes committed with guns.
Bonta was one of several Democrats on the assembly’s public safety committee who voted to sink the proposal, from freshman Republican assemblyman Bill Essayli. But in a highly unusual move, Bonta went beyond a simple no vote and blocked Essayli’s request to revise and reintroduce his legislation. The Democratic majority did not intervene, allowing her to table the bill for the rest of the session.
Bonta’s maneuver comes as violent crime, including homicide and rape, is spiking statewide. As the state’s top cop, Rob Bonta aligns with progressive prosecutors like Los Angeles’s George Gascon, whose "progressive" policies have led to a rise in crime. Rob Bonta has largely dedicated his office’s resources to investigating law enforcement and promoting social justice.
A legislative staffer for the assembly told the Washington Free Beacon that he had never seen a member block a bill from reconsideration in 10 years of working in the state capitol.
Essayli’s bill would have required California judges to add jail time on sentences for criminals who used guns in commission of a violent crime. The proposal would have partially repealed a 2017 state law giving judges the option to dismiss such "sentencing enhancements," and a newly enforceable 2022 law requires judges to drop additional jail time "if it is in the furtherance of justice to do so."
Law enforcement and victims’ advocates urged lawmakers to pass the bill, describing murders and violence they claimed were on the rise because of the state’s "soft-on-crime" policies.
During his testimony, Essayli noted that gun violence primarily affects minority communities like Oakland, which Bonta represents. Essayli noted that in 2020, 65 percent of Oakland's homicide victims were black, and recounted the story of a murder victim's mother who said she could never really heal "if there is no justice."
This appeal seemed to strike a nerve with Bonta, who snapped: "You don't need to talk to me about mothers in Oakland." The assemblywoman then claimed that her constituents were not as worried about gun violence as by the prospect of having "their sons and brothers and fathers and mothers being taken away from them because of the disproportionate impact that enhancements have had on their community."
"Longer sentencing does not prevent crime, certainty of apprehension does," Bonta said Tuesday. Committee chair Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D.) also took a shot at Essayli’s credibility.
"You’re new, you’re a freshman," Jones-Sawyer said, noting that Essayli did not appreciate the assembly’s efforts throughout "a long, 10-year process to be able to make the justice system more just."
The Bontas came under fire last month when Mia, who succeeded her husband after Gov. Gavin Newsom (D.) named him attorney general in 2021, was tapped to oversee her husband’s department budget, a move experts said was ethically dubious. No strangers to criticism, the couple came under fire during Rob Bonta’s tenure in the legislature, when he established a foundation that funneled money to the nonprofit where his wife earned six figures as the CEO.
Mia Bonta’s office did not respond to a request for comment.