POLITICS

Governor Appoints Rob Bonta As California's First Filipino American Attorney General

The progressive assemblyman, the son of civil rights activists, has a history of fighting for criminal justice reform.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom nominated state Assembly member Rob Bonta to be attorney general. He could be the first Filipino American to hold the office.  

In an announcement Wednesday, the governor hailed Bonta’s history as a Democratic legislator leading efforts to ban for-profit prisons, strengthen renter protections and expunge criminal records for minor marijuana charges. 

If approved by the state legislature, Bonta would fill the seat vacated by Xavier Becerra, who recently became the secretary of health and human services in the Biden administration. 

Bonta’s appointment was cheered by progressives, criminal justice reformers and farmworkers

“Rob represents what makes California great — our desire to take on righteous fights and reverse systematic injustices,” Newsom said in a news release. “Growing up with parents steeped in social justice movements, Rob has become a national leader in the fight to repair our justice system and defend the rights of every Californian.”

Bonta is the son of civil rights activists. His mother, a Filipina immigrant, fought for tenants’ rights in San Francisco in the 1970s. Both his parents worked alongside legendary organizers Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez in the movement for farmworkers’ rights. 

Bonta made history in 2012 when he was elected to the state Assembly to represent Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro, and became California’s first Filipino American state legislator. 

Bonta’s appointment to the top justice post in the state comes as attacks on Asian Americans have risen dramatically, particularly in his home region of the San Francisco Bay Area.