Former lawmaker sues Rubios + AB 35 signed + CDP leader resigns + Is Lee ‘PAC-washing?’

·7 min read

Good morning and welcome to the A.M. Alert!

RUBIO SISTERS FACE DEFAMATION LAWSUIT

A former assemblyman whose tenure in office ended with allegations of domestic violence is suing his ex-wife, Sen. Susan Rubio, and her sister, Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio, for defamation, alleging that the two Baldwin Park Democratic lawmakers cost him job opportunities.

Former Democratic Assemblyman Roger Hernández filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court against the Rubios on May 6, alleging defamation, intentional interference with contractual relations and intentional interference with prospective economic relations.

A Los Angeles judge in 2016 granted a domestic violence restraining order against Hernández on behalf of Sen. Rubio, who at the time was a Baldwin Park City Council member. Hernández was stripped of his legislative committee assignments as a result.

Hernández at the time denied the allegations, and he continues to deny them in his lawsuit.

“These accusations are false. Notably, Susan has never filed a police report in connection with any of her allegations of domestic violence against Roger. Moreover, and still to this date, Roger has never been criminally charged — or even investigated by any law enforcement authorities — in connection with any domestic violence allegedly perpetrated against Susan,” according to the complaint.

Hernández alleges in the complaint that Sen. Rubio sought the domestic violence restraining order to damage his campaign for Congress, a race he ultimately lost.

He further alleges that the restraining order and allegations of domestic violence were part of the Rubio sisters’ political ambitions. After winning the Assembly seat formerly held by Hernández, Blanca Rubio co-sponsored a bill with her sister extending the statute of limitations for victims of domestic violence from three to five years.

“Simply put, the Rubio sisters ‘saw an opening’ and seized on it,” Hernández said in the complaint.

A Los Angeles judge in 2020 renewed the restraining order for another five years.

The lawsuit goes on to claim that that the Rubio sisters interfered with his career prospects as he sought work as a consultant after leaving the Assembly.

In a statement to The Bee, Sen. Rubio noted that two different Los Angeles judges found cause to authorize a domestic violence restraining order against Hernández.

“Under this order, Mr. Hernández is not allowed to be near me. But despite this physical restriction, Mr. Hernandez has chosen an alternative path of harassment. Mr. Hernández claims that my sister and I have defamed him by discussing my personal experience as a domestic violence survivor while advocating in support of our domestic violence legislation. This lawsuit is an obvious attempt to intimidate and silence us,” Sen. Rubio said in the statement.

Lawrence Iser, attorney for the Rubio sisters, said in a statement that Hernández’s lawsuit is “a textbook example of someone attempting to use the court system to intimidate persons (in this case prominent California legislators) who are exercising their First Amendment rights to speak freely on essential matters of public interest.”

ON A RELATED NOTE — The Sacramento Bee is hosting a live Q&A Tuesday evening with three local experts on domestic violence. You can find out more information about that discussion by visiting here.

NEWSOM SIGNS AB 35 INTO LAW

It’s official: Californians will not be voting on medical malpractice reform this November.

That’s because Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed into law AB 35, a compromise bill aimed at updating the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act, also known as MICRA.

“After decades of negotiations, legislators, patient groups, and medical professionals have reached a consensus that protects patients and the stability of our health care system,” Newsom said in a statement Monday.

AB 35 raises the cap for medical malpractice damages for the first time in decades, and represents a compromise between attorneys, doctors and other stakeholders.

“For decades, medically injured patients suffered from both the pain of being wrongfully injured and the unfairness of a system that severely restricted their access to justice,” said Craig M. Peters, president of Consumer Attorneys of California, in a statement. “With Governor Newsom’s signature on AB 35, a 50-year battle, led by injured patients and their families to restore justice to California’s MICRA law, is finally resulting in a better outcome. This historic agreement will ensure patients are more fairly compensated when their rights have been violated.”

The bill’s signing was hailed by a number of lawmakers, including Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, who tweeted on Monday,”#AB35, which updates MICRA, is a big accomplishment for our state. This is a great example of what happens when opposing groups can come together and talk- California is better for it. Thanks to @AsmReyes47 for her leadership on this bill, and @CAgovernor for signing.”

CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATIC PARTY LEADER RESIGNS

California Democratic Party secretary and Democratic National Committee member Melahat Rafiei has resigned from those positions, following allegations that she is accused of trying to bribe public officials, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Rafiei took to Twitter on Sunday night to tender her resignation.

In the post, Rafiei acknowledged cooperating with federal authorities in an ongoing investigation of corruption in the City of Anaheim.

“I was not compelled to cooperate. Any assertions to the contrary are false. I chose to assist federal investigators out of a sense of duty and patriotism. If those individuals now named by federal prosecutors are, in fact, guilty of corruption and brought to justice, I will be proud of the role I was willing to play despite what that role has now cost me,” Rafiei wrote in her statement.

According to Voice of OC, Rafiei is “a longtime leader in Orange County’s Democratic Party,” who was arrested by the FBI in 2019 after she allegedly attempted to bribe two Irvine city councilmembers in exchange for favorable legislation.

After her arrest, she cooperated with the FBI “in their work to expose a ruling resort cabal working out of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce,” according to Voice of OC.

Rafiei, an Iranian-American refugee, notes in her post that she used her position in the Democratic Party to support communities of immigrants, LGBTQ people and women of color.

“For that reason, being an elected representative of the CDP and the DNC has been an incredible honor,” she wrote.

ALEX LEE INDIRECTLY ACCEPTED MONEY FROM BIG BUSINESS, OIL INDUSTRY, POLICE GROUP

A staunch progressive, Assemblyman Alex Lee, D-San Jose, has made it clear that he doesn’t want oil industry, corporation or police union money. In fact, he took to Twitter in June 2021 to state just that.

However, as Rob Pyers of California Target Book showed on Twitter Monday, Lee’s 2022 reelection campaign has accepted money from those groups, albeit indirectly.

Pyers’ tweet shows Lee’s reelection campaign receiving a pair of $50,000 donations from the LGBT Caucus Leadership Fund on May 21. That fund, in turn, receives tens of thousands of dollars in donations from organizations including the Peace Officers Research Association of California PAC, Chevron Policy Government & Public Affairs, Anheuser Busch Companies, and others.

As NBC News reporter Alex Seitz-Wald noted on Twitter, “Great example of what you might call PAC-washing. Pledge you won’t take police union, fossil fuel, or corporate money, then take money from a virtuous-sounding PAC whose top donors are...a police union, a fossil fuel company and corporations.”

Lee’s office did not respond to a Bee request for comment by deadline.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“It is House of Origin deadline week. This means that all bill’s need to pass its house (Assembly or Senate) by Friday. In the words of @Rendon63rd, let’s get to work!”

- Assemblyman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, via Twitter.

Best of the Bee:

  • The last time Gavin Newsom’s name was on the ballot in California, he faced dozens of opponents in a chaotic recall election that drew national attention and was sparked by opposition to his handling of the pandemic. Nine months later, Newsom is facing the voters again but the circumstances of the June 7 primary couldn’t be more different, via Dale Kasler.

  • OPINION: No Jesus for Nancy Pelosi? House speaker could appeal bishop’s communion ban to Rome, via Melinda Henneberger.

  • The state of California is hiring in the Department of Transportation, California Correctional Health Care Services, Water Resources, Social Services and more, via Brianna Taylor.

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