SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — “My nickname is Huggy Bear, and you know, at the bowling team we were the Huggies. I hug men, women, all ages; I’m an equal opportunity hugger,” said state Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Los Angeles).
“If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted by a state assembly member or senator you can anonymously report them,” the ad says.
It shows Hertzberg hugging multiple women around the Capitol.
Hertzberg admits the photos are real, but he says they’re wildly out of context. This photo from the ad shows him hugging a local union activist.
But Hertzberg provided a photo of him hugging the same woman, someone he calls a long-time friend.
They were at this weekend’s Women’s March in his Los Angeles district.
“This is about as low as you can go,” he said.
The video was produced by backers of California’s bail industry; an industry Hertzberg is trying to reform.
“This is trying to take advantage of an issue, a legitimate issue raised by the Me Too movement, We Said Enough movement. They’re trying to tie it to bail reform,” he said.
Hertzberg wants to eliminate the use of the state’s cash bail system. Bail advocates are furious, but they maintain this video has nothing to do with bail reform.
“He needs to quit pointing fingers and look himself in the mirror and take responsibility for his actions,” said T.J. Esposito.
Esposito once ran for Bakersfield mayor, and now he’s a bail advocate and owns the media company that created the ad.
“This the victim standing up. This is the victim saying, ‘Bob, this isn’t an attack on you, it’s about you attacking other people,’” he said.
He maintains the ad is funded by anonymous victims.
Hertzberg is skeptical.
The We Said Enough campaign says it’s not affiliated with the Sacramento Victims Hotline mentioned in the ad, and they urge caution to victims who use the hotline. They say women have to think about their legal rights when they post anything that talks about sexual harassment in the workplace. The hotline is not connected to any of the proposed reform efforts at the Capitol.