California lawmaker banned from hugging after complaints

California lawmaker banned from hugging after complaints
© YouTube: Milken Institute

California state Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D), who was reportedly known as “Hugsberg” and “Huggy Bear” due to his frequent embraces of both male and female colleagues, has been reprimanded and told to stop hugging.

The state Senate Rules Committee formally reprimanded Hertzberg on Tuesday and told him to stop hugging people after completing an investigation of four complaints about the hugs, according to The Associated Press.

Three female lawmakers and one male sergeant at arms reportedly complained that Hertzberg’s hugs made them uncomfortable.

Hertzberg, 63, responded to the hugging ban in a letter apologizing to those who found the hugs inappropriate, saying that they are intended to be “a gesture of warmth and kindness and a reflection of my exuberance.”

“I understand that I cannot control how a hug is received, and that not everyone has the ability to speak up about unwelcome behavior,” Hertzberg wrote, according to the AP. “It is my responsibility to be mindful of this.”

The investigators said Hertzberg had been warned about the hugs in the past, after complaints were filed, but said the state Senate did not give Hertzberg enough information to “understand that some people were genuinely troubled.”

Hertzberg reportedly stopped hugging one of the lawmakers who complained after she asked him to stop, and was unaware that another lawmaker was also uncomfortable.

“More information may have resulted in Hertzberg correcting his conduct with respect to unwanted hugs earlier,” investigators wrote.

Hertzberg’s hugging ban comes after three other California state lawmakers resigned in recent months over sexual misconduct allegations.