Rob Bonta

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Rob Bonta
Bonta headshot.jpg
34th Attorney General of California
Assumed office
April 23, 2021
GovernorGavin Newsom
Preceded byXavier Becerra
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 18th district
In office
December 3, 2012 – April 22, 2021
Preceded byMary Hayashi
Succeeded byVacant
Member of the Alameda City Council
In office
December 2010 – December 2012
Succeeded byMarilyn Ezzy Ashcraft
Personal details
Born (1972-09-22) September 22, 1972 (age 48)
Quezon City, Philippines
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Mialisa Villafane
EducationYale University (BA, JD)

Robert Andres Bonta (born September 22, 1972) is an American attorney and politician serving as the attorney general of the state of California. He was formerly a member of the California State Assembly for the 18th district since 2012. A member of the Democratic Party, his district covers the central East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area and includes the cities of Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro. Bonta was previously a member of the Alameda City Council from 2010 to 2012.

Upon his election to the California State Assembly where he chairs the California Asian & Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, he became the first Filipino-American to enter the California State Legislature.[1]

On March 24, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that he would be appointing Bonta as Attorney General of California to succeed Xavier Becerra, who resigned the position to become Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Joe Biden.[2][3] His appointment was confirmed by the California State Legislature on April 22[4] and he was sworn in on April 23,[5] becoming the first Filipino-American[4] and the second Asian-American (after Kamala Harris) to occupy the position of California Attorney General.

Early life and education[edit]

Robert Andres Bonta was born on September 22, 1972 in Quezon City, Philippines.[6][7] The next day, Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law.[8] Bonta immigrated with his family to California at just two months old.[6] Through his father, Bonta was a U.S. citizen at birth.[6][9]

The Bonta family initially lived in a trailer at Nuestra Señora Reina de la Paz, the United Farm Workers headquarters near Keene, California, before moving north to Fair Oaks, a suburb of Sacramento.[6][10] At Bella Vista High School, Bonta was a soccer player and graduated as class valedictorian.[10]

Bonta then attended Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, where he graduated cum laude with a B.A. in history in 1993 and played on the Yale Bulldogs men's soccer team.[11][dead link][12] After completing his undergraduate studies, Bonta attended University of Oxford for one year studying politics, philosophy, and economics.[11][dead link] In 1995, Bonta enrolled at Yale Law School and graduated with a Juris Doctor in 1998.[13]

Early career[edit]

After his year at Oxford, Bonta returned to New Haven to attend Yale Law School while concurrently working as site coordinator at nonprofit organization Leadership, Education, and Athletics in Partnership (LEAP), where he developed policy and managed activities for 30 staff members and 100 children for an organization serving the Church Street South neighborhood.[11] Bonta was admitted to the California State Bar in 1999.[14]

From 1998 to 1999, Bonta clerked for Judge Alvin W. Thompson of the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut.[11] Bonta then returned to California to be a litigation associate with San Francisco law firm Keker & Van Nest. Working at Keker & Van Nest from 1999 to 2003, Bonta practiced in a variety of areas including civil rights, crime, insurance, patent infringement, legal malpractice, contract, and fraud.[11] As a private attorney, Bonta was part of a team that worked with the ACLU to implement new protocols to prevent racial profiling by the California Highway Patrol.[15]

From 2003 to 2012, Bonta was a Deputy City Attorney of San Francisco under Dennis Herrera.[11][13] During his tenure, Bonta represented the City of San Francisco in a lawsuit filed by Kelly Medora, a pre-school teacher who accused a San Francisco Police Department officer of using excessive force during a jaywalking arrest. Bonta, as the assigned attorney by the City Attorney's Office, argued for the city that Medora and her friends put themselves and others in danger by walking on the street and were warned to leave by Damonte and another officer. The city eventually settled the lawsuit for $235,000 in May 2008.[16] In 2009, Bonta testified on behalf of the city in defense of San Francisco's strip search policy in jails by arguing that concerns about smuggling of drugs and weapons at a main city jail presented reasonable basis for strip searches.[17] The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled 6–5 in favor of the strip search policy in February 2010.[18]


Alameda City Council[edit]

Bonta was elected to Alameda City Council in November 2010. Within a year, he declared his intent to run for state assembly. In 2012, some Alameda residents started a recall campaign against him but the effort never qualified for the ballot, with Bonta winning election to the state assembly in November 2012.[19]

California State Assembly[edit]

Elected to the State Assembly in 2012, Bonta has authored major changes to California's penal code as well as immigration, health care and housing law.

Bonta introduced legislation in January 2013 that would require California public schools, as funding is available, to teach students "the role of immigrants, including Filipino Americans" in the farm labor movement.[20] It was signed into law in October of that same year by Jerry Brown.[21] Bonta's mother, Cynthia Bonta, helped organize Filipino and Mexican American farmworkers for the United Farm Workers.[1]

Bonta authored legislation in 2016 to outlaw "balanced billing" by hospitals in order to help consumers avoid surprise medical bills.[22] Brown signed the bill in September 2016.[23]

Bonta introduced legislation to repeal a McCarthy-era ban on Communist Party members holding government jobs in California.[24] The bill received criticism from Republicans, veteran groups and Vietnamese Americans, with Republican Assemblyman Travis Allen calling it "blatantly offensive to all Californians." After passing the State Assembly, the legislation was later withdrawn.[25]

Bonta and State Senator Robert Hertzberg co-authored Senate Bill 10 that made California the first state in the nation to eliminate money bail for suspects awaiting trial and replace it with a risk-assessment system.[26] On August 28, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed the sweeping reform bill into law.[27]

Bonta introduced legislation to end the use of for-profit, private prisons and detention facilities in California. Signed in 2019 by Gavin Newson, AB 32 made California the first state in the nation to ban both private prisons and civil detention centers.[28]

Bonta introduced Assembly Bill 1481 in 2019, which sought to outlaw baseless evictions and mandate landlords demonstrate "just cause" in order to evict residential tenants. The bill was combined with a statewide cap on rent increases and other rental proposals into a single piece of legislation.[29] That bill, Assembly Bill 1482, was passed by the California Legislature and signed by Newsom in October 2019.[30]

Bonta joined Assemblymember Kevin McCarty and other colleagues in 2019 as a lead author[31] of Assembly Bill 1506, a bill to mandate an independent review of officer involved shootings in California by the California Department of Justice. The bill was signed into law in September 2020 by Newsom.[32]

Following the killing of George Floyd and a July 2020 incident in Central Park involving a white woman calling 9-1-1 to report a black man who asked her to obey park rules,[33] Bonta introduced legislation that would criminalize knowingly making a false call to the police based on someone's race, religion, or gender.[34]

Attorney General of California[edit]

On March 24, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that he would be nominating Bonta as Attorney General of California to succeed Xavier Becerra, who resigned the position to become U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Joe Biden.[2][3] Bonta will be the first Filipino-American to hold the office.[35]

Electoral history[edit]

2014 California State Assembly[edit]

California's 18th State Assembly district election, 2014
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Rob Bonta (incumbent) 44,321 85.8
Republican David Erlich 7,358 14.2
Total votes 51,679 100.0
General election
Democratic Rob Bonta (incumbent) 88,243 86.7
Republican David Erlich 13,537 13.3
Total votes 101,780 100.0
Democratic hold

2016 California State Assembly[edit]

California's 18th State Assembly district election, 2016
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Rob Bonta (incumbent) 98,202 89.1
Republican Roseann Slonsky-Breault 12,057 10.9
Total votes 110,259 100.0
General election
Democratic Rob Bonta (incumbent) 156,163 87.0
Republican Roseann Slonsky-Breault 23,273 13.0
Total votes 179,436 100.0
Democratic hold

2018 California State Assembly[edit]

California's 18th State Assembly district election, 2018
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Rob Bonta (incumbent) 85,354 89.0
Republican Stephen Slauson 10,549 11.0
Total votes 95,903 100.0
General election
Democratic Rob Bonta (incumbent) 150,862 88.9
Republican Stephen Slauson 18,894 11.1
Total votes 184,754 100.0
Democratic hold

2020 California State Assembly[edit]

2020 California's 18th State Assembly district election
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Rob Bonta (incumbent) 65,092 87.7%
Republican Stephen Slauson 9,154 12.3%
Total votes

Personal life[edit]

Bonta's wife, Mia Bonta, is the president of the Alameda Unified School District and a candidate in the 2021 special election to succeed her husband for California's 18th Assembly district.[36]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Rene, Ciria-Cruz (April 3, 2013). "Bill to teach Filipinos' role in labor movement advances in California". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Inquirer Group of Companies. Retrieved May 5, 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Rob Bonta, Bay Area Democratic lawmaker, appointed California attorney general". Los Angeles Times. March 24, 2021. Retrieved March 24, 2021.
  3. ^ a b Hubler, Shawn (March 24, 2021). "Rob Bonta, an Asian-American Progressive, Is Named Attorney General in California". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 24, 2021.
  4. ^ a b McGreevy, Patrick (April 22, 2021). "Rob Bonta is confirmed as California attorney general — the first Filipino American to fill the role". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 22, 2021.
  5. ^ Hawkins, Stephen (April 23, 2021). "Gov. Newsom swears in Rob Bonta as Attorney General". KMPH. Retrieved April 23, 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d Bonta, Rob (September 16, 2016). "Citizenship with a side of adobo". Asian Journal. Retrieved July 6, 2020.
  7. ^ "Rob Bonta". Join California. Retrieved July 6, 2020.
  8. ^ "Declaration of Martial Law". Official Gazette. Republic of the Philippines. Retrieved July 6, 2020.
  9. ^ Tavares, Steven (June 29, 2018). "Assemblymember Rob Bonta Calls Republican Challenger's 'Birther' Claim 'Racist Hatred'". East Bay Express. Retrieved July 6, 2020.
  10. ^ a b Burnson, Robert (March 5, 2014). "Assemblyman Rob Bonta of Alameda Flourishes Despite Detractors". Oakland Magazine. Retrieved July 6, 2020.
  11. ^ a b c d e f
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b "Biography". October 31, 2016. Retrieved January 8, 2020.
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Rob Bonta for California Assembly » About Rob". Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  16. ^ Rosenfeld, Seth (May 11, 2008). "S.F. settles excessive force suit for $235,000". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on May 14, 2008. Retrieved July 6, 2020.
  17. ^ Egelko, Bob (March 27, 2009). "In appeals court, S.F. defends strip searches". San Francisco Chronicle. p. B-2. Archived from the original on March 30, 2009. Retrieved July 6, 2020.
  18. ^ Egelko, Bob (February 10, 2010). "S.F.'s jail strip-search policy ruled OK". San Francisco Chronicle. p. C-4. Archived from the original on February 13, 2010. Retrieved July 6, 2020.
  19. ^ Tavares, Steven (August 10, 2012). "Abel Guillen Files Complaint With FPPC Alleging Rob Bonta Violated Financial Disclosure Laws". East Bay Express. Archived from the original on August 12, 2012. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  20. ^ "Bill History". California Legislative Information. Retrieved February 10, 2021.
  21. ^ Pimentel, Joseph (October 9, 2013). "California writing Filipino Americans into the history books". Public Radio International. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  22. ^ Kelber, Kara (August 31, 2016). "Consumers Union Celebrates Passage of AB 72 to Protect Millions of Californians from Surprise Medical Bills". Consumer Reports. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  23. ^ "Bill History". Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  24. ^ Bollag, Sophia (May 8, 2017). "California may end ban on communists in government jobs". Associated Press. Retrieved July 6, 2020.
  25. ^ "Oakland Assemblyman Drops Bill to Allow Communists in State Government". KQED. Retrieved December 17, 2020.
  26. ^ Bollag, Sophia (August 21, 2018). "Bill to end bail in California headed to Gov. Brown". Associated Press. Retrieved July 6, 2020.
  27. ^ Koseff, Alexei (August 28, 2018). "Jerry Brown signs bill eliminating money bail in California". The Sacramento Bee. ISSN 0890-5738. Archived from the original on September 1, 2018. Retrieved September 10, 2018.
  28. ^ ,Koseff, Alexei (October 11, 2019). "California bands private prisons and immigrant detention centers". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  29. ^ Brinklow, Adam (July 2, 2019). "California anti-eviction bill back from the dead in Sacramento". Curbed San Francisco. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  30. ^ Brinklow, Adam (October 8, 2019). "California governor to sign statewide rent control bill in Oakland". Curbed San Francisco. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  31. ^ "Bill Status". Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  32. ^ Nieves, Alexender (September 30, 2020). "California to ban chokeholds, independently review police shootings under newly signed laws". POLITICO. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  33. ^ Jacobs, Shayna. "Prosecutors allege White woman charged with calling 911 on Black birdwatcher in Central Park also falsely claimed the man tried to 'assault' her". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  34. ^ Pardo, Daniella (July 29, 2020). "CA Lawmaker Wants to Make Race-Based 911 Calls a Hate Crime". Spectrum News1. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  35. ^ Hubler, Shawn (March 24, 2021). "Rob Bonta, an Asian-American Progressive, Is Named Attorney General in California". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  36. ^

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Matt Rodriquez
Attorney General of California