Alberto Torrico

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Alberto Torrico
Member of the
California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board
In office
May 13, 2008[1] – March 18, 2010[2]
Appointed by Karen Bass
Preceded by Karen Bass
Succeeded by Charles Calderon
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 20th district
In office
December 6, 2004 – November 30, 2010
Preceded by John Dutra
Personal details
Political party Democratic

Alberto Torrico served as Majority Leader of the California State Assembly from 2008 until 2010. He was first elected to California’s State Assembly in 2004, where he served three full terms.

During his three terms in Sacramento, Alberto served as Chair of the Public Employee Retirement and Social Security Committee, charged with oversight of the pension funds, CALPERS and CALSTRS. He also chaired the Governmental Organization Committee.

In the California Democratic primary of 2010, Alberto ran unsuccessfully for Attorney General.

After being termed out of office, Torrico was appointed to the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board in January 2011. Prior to his legislative tenure, Alberto served as a council member for three years in the East Bay community of Newark.

Early life and education[edit]

Torrico attended Irvington High School in Fremont, California. Torrico earned his Bachelor of Science degree in political science from Santa Clara University. He went on to earn a J.D. from University of California, Hastings College of Law.

Legal career[edit]

Torrico was admitted to the California State Bar in 1996.[3] His career began as a policy aide for Santa Clara County Supervisor Ron Gonzales. He specialized in labor law at Weinberg, Roger & Rosenfield in Oakland and Los Angeles, taught labor and employment law at San Jose City College, and served as senior assistant counsel at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority in San Jose. In 2001, he opened a private law practice in Fremont.

Public service[edit]

Newark City Council[edit]

Torrico was elected to the Newark City Council in 2001 and later served as Vice-Mayor of Newark.

California State Assembly[edit]

Torrico was elected to the California state Assembly in 2004 to succeed termed-out John Dutra. In his second term Torrico was appointed Chair of the Governmental Organization Committee. Torrico was later named Director for Majority Affairs.

Controversy[edit]

IRS Revokes Non-Profit, Recommends Investigation[edit]

In early 2006, Torrico and his wife formulated a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization called Raquel’s Kids. The organization claimed to provide various public services, but soon came under scrutiny for not filing taxes and expense reports to let the public know what funds and donations were being used for. The organization did not file tax documents for three consecutive years between 2010 and 2012, leading to the automatic revocation of the organization’s exempt status with the IRS on May 15, 2013, recommending an investigation into non-profits use of finances.[4][5]

California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board[edit]

After Torrico left the Assembly due to term limits following his third term, Assembly Speaker John Perez appointed him to the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. The Board was seen more as a soft landing spot for termed out members, like Torrico, and would pay their members over $150,000 a year to attend a few key meetings.[6]

Non-Voting Controversy[edit]

During his tenure in the Assembly, Torrico was criticized by the press and advocacy groups for being a non-voter (known as "taking a walk") on an important consumer protection bill that would have banned the use of a toxic substance bisphenol A (BPA) in products aimed at young children. Once a high-profile supporter of Senate Bill 797, Torrico refused to vote even though he was present during the roll call, after manufacturers of BPA and the products that use it spent $5 million against the bill.[7]

Failure to Support Other Democratic Measures[edit]

Torrico also failed to vote on and support other democratic measures, including a gay marriage bill in 2005, which needed only 6 more votes to pass. His lack of support sent shockwaves across his democratic base.[8] In 2007, he also wavered on supporting the Democratic fight for terminally ill patients, known as the "Death with Dignity Act". Torrico stated his resistance was faith-based, stating, "I believe that questions of life or death should be left to God."[9]

Disregard for Animal Welfare[edit]

In 2007 and 2010, Torrico put forth a yes vote to end a 35-year-old ban on selling or possessing products made out of kangaroo parts. The production of these products are particularly cruel, as when a female animal is killed, the baby is also killed in the process, often by being clubbed in the head.[10][11][12]

Named Top Recipient of Gifts, Kickbacks from Lobbyists and Special Interests[edit]

During his tenure in the State Capitol, Torrico topped many lists by watchdog groups naming him a top recipient of gifts including tickets, passes, free travel and kick-backs, gifted to him by lobbyists and special interests that had business before the committees on which Torrico was a voting member.[13][14]

Extramarital Affair[edit]

Despite publicly claiming that he and his family are devout Born-again Evangelical Christians,[9] it was discovered that Torrico was involved in at least one extramarital affair with a subordinate co-worker that lasted many years. The affair was brought to light in April 2013 after Torrico's wife violently confronted then attacked the woman she believed was involved with her husband.[15]

Physical Assault[edit]

On April 13, 2013, Torrico and his wife Raquel Andrade Torrico attended the Democratic State Convention. At some point during the event, Alberto Torrico's wife, Raquel Andrade Torrico, violently attacked the aide of a fellow Assemblymember, alleging an inappropriate relationship with her husband. Torrico's wife was witnessed violently choking the aide and had to be physically restrained and led away. The incident occurred outside of the Convention Center in downtown Sacramento, CA. Torrico himself, and both of the Torrico children were present during the entire event. Several witness statements confirmed that with the help of her husband, Mrs. Torrico hunted the aide for several hours before the attack. The report states that following the incident, with Torrico by her side, his wife bragged about the assault to several delegates and elected officials. As a result of the violent attack, and subsequent harassment, the aide filed for a Restraining Order. According to court documents and an internal incident report, Torrico's wife continued to stalk and threaten the aide with violence.[15]

Illegal Campaign Financing[edit]

In June 2013, Torrico was charged with failing to report campaign expenditures in the amount of $465,531 during his failed 2010 run for California Attorney General. Since the amount was nearly 20% of his total campaign income, the FPPC deemed it to be substantial and an illegal violation of fair political practices. The FPPC imposed a fine on Torrico as a settlement.[16][17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Clerk of the Assembly. "California Assembly Handbook - 2008-09" (PDF). State of California. Retrieved 2010-10-25. 
  2. ^ Perez, John A. (March 18, 2010). "Perez Names Assembly Committees" (PDF). Assembly Democratic Caucus of California. Archived (PDF) from the original on 8 October 2010. Retrieved October 25, 2010. 
  3. ^ CA State Bar Records
  4. ^ "IRS Report for Raquel's Kids"
  5. ^ "Nonprofit Report for Raquel's Kids"
  6. ^ "Alberto Torrico named to state appeals board", San Jose Mercury News, Jan. 6, 2011.
  7. ^ "On the Defeat of State Legislation to Ban Bisphenol A From Children's Food and Drink Containers", San Francisco Chronicle, July 1, 2010.
  8. ^ "California gay-marriage bill fails", Boston Globe, June 3, 2005.
  9. ^ a b "Assisted suicide bill relies on Dems", San Jose Mercury News, June 6, 2007
  10. ^ "Ballot Responses", California Legislative Information, August 12, 2010
  11. ^ "Kangaroos come up losers in state Senate vote", SF Gate Politics Blog, May 29, 2007
  12. ^ "Kangaroo parts allowed in the state for an extra five years", California Watch, October 4, 2010
  13. ^ "Disney Bribes the California Legislature"
  14. ^ "Lawmakers got Lakers playoff tickets from stadium developer", Los Angeles Times, August 2, 2010
  15. ^ a b "Wife of Alberto Torrico Attacks Aide", East Bay Citizen, April 16, 2013
  16. ^ "Two Former Lawmakers Fined", Los Angeles Times, June 10, 2013
  17. ^ "Torrico Agrees to Pay Campaign Fine for Illegal Campaign Finance Reporting", East Bay Citizen, June 10, 2013
California Assembly
Preceded by
John Dutra
Assemblymember, 20th District
2004–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Karen Bass
Assembly Majority Leader
May 13, 2008–present
Incumbent