Robert Hertzberg

Robert "Bob" Myles Hertzberg (born November 19, 1954)[1] is an American politician currently serving as Majority Leader in the California State Senate. He is a Democrat representing the 18th Senate District, encompassing parts of the San Fernando Valley.

Bob Hertzberg
Robert Hertzberg.jpg
Majority Leader of the California Senate
Assumed office
January 7, 2019
Preceded byBill Monning
Member of the California Senate
from the 18th district
Assumed office
December 1, 2014
Preceded byAlex Padilla
64th Speaker of the California Assembly
In office
April 13, 2000 – February 6, 2002
Preceded byAntonio Villaraigosa
Succeeded byHerb Wesson
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 40th district
In office
December 1996 – December 2002
Preceded byBarbara Friedman
Succeeded byLloyd Levine
Personal details
Born (1954-11-19) November 19, 1954 (age 65)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationUniversity of Redlands (BA)
University of California, Hastings (JD)

Prior to being elected to the State Senate in 2014, he served as the 64th Speaker of the Assembly, representing the 40th Assembly District. He is one of six former Speakers in California history to also serve in the State Senate. He is a member of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus.

Early lifeEdit

Hertzberg was born the third of five sons in downtown Los Angeles, California to Harrison Hertzberg, a constitutional lawyer, and Antoinette Hertzberg. He grew up in Benedict Canyon, Los Angeles, where he attended Warner Avenue Elementary School. The family later moved to Palm Springs, California, where the school district allowed Hertzberg's elder brother with cerebral palsy to attend. He went to Palm Springs High School then graduated magna cum laude[2] from the University of Redlands in 1976 with a B.A. in history and English.[1] Hertzberg earned his Juris Doctor from Hastings College of the Law in 1979.[1]

Legal careerEdit

After graduating from law school, Hertzberg was an associate at the Beverly Hills law firm of Fulop, Rolston, Burns, & McKittrick.[citation needed]

Hertzberg & HertzbergEdit

He and his father later formed the Hertzberg & Hertzberg law firm. They argued over the direction of the firm, wherein he wanted to practice business law and his father specialized in constitutional law. The younger Hertzberg left in 1985 and sued his father over the firm's assets in 1986, seeking $1 million in punitive damages. After his father's passing in 1987, the case was settled as part of the estate.[1] Afterward, he worked at several small firms before running for the State Assembly in 1996.[citation needed]

Mayer BrownEdit

After retiring from the State Assembly in 2002, Mickey Kantor recruited Hertzberg to full partner at Mayer Brown LLP, formerly Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw, where he made a $1 million dollars a year.[1] At the firm, Hertzberg specialized in government affairs, providing strategic advice to companies doing business in California and nationally. He has been particularly interested in the fields of the environment, climate-change, energy, water and Indian related issues.[3] In 2014, Hertzberg left Mayer Brown, after being sworn in as a State Senator.[citation needed]

Glaser WeilEdit

Shortly after being elected to the California State Senate in November 2014, Hertzberg was hired as a "of counsel" government affairs attorney with the Los Angeles law firm Glaser Weil. Hana Callaghan, director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, has raised concerns over potential conflict of interests, as the firm services many clients who are affected by state legislation.[4][5] In December 2017, he and Glaser Weil mutually agreed to the suspension of their relationship, following sexual assault allegations against State Assemblyman Matt Dababneh, whom is represented by Glaser Weil.[6]

Early political workEdit

Hertzberg experience with politics begin at 19[1] as a driver for State Senator Mervyn Dymally, who ran in the Lieutenant Governor of California race, in 1974. There he built his networks within the Latino political circles, including Gloria Molina, Richard Alatorre, and Antonio Villaraigosa.[7]

He then did a part-time stint as an advance man in the White House under President Jimmy Carter in 1977–80. From the 1970s through the 1990s, he worked for numerous California Democrats, including Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina, U.S. Representatives Dennis Cardoza (campaign chair), Brad Sherman, Julian Dixon, Xavier Becerra (campaign co-chair), Lucy Roybal-Allard and Hilda Solis, Los Angeles City Council Members Mike Hernandez (co-chair) and Herb Wesson (chair), and State Assembly members Antonio Villaraigosa (campaign treasurer), Hersh Rosenthal, and Richard Alatorre, among others.[citation needed]

California State AssemblyEdit


In 1994, Hertzberg contemplated running for the 40th Assembly District, which encompassed North Hollywood to Canoga Park in the San Fernando Valley, but never announced his candidacy.[8]

In 1996, Assemblywoman Barbara Friedman of the 40th Assembly District termed out.[9] In the March Democratic primaries, Hertzberg ran against Francine Oschin, aide to Los Angeles City Councilman Hal Bernson.[10] According to the California Political Almanac, Hertzberg "racked up a sheaf of endorsements and raised well over $200,000 for the primary." He won the primary with 72% of the vote.[citation needed] In the November general election, Hertzberg had a 59–31% victory over Republican Ron Culver.[11]

In 1998 and 2000, Hertzberg was re-elected with 69% and 70% respectively.[12][13]

Speaker of the Assembly (2000–2002)Edit

On April 13, 2000, Hertzberg was unanimously elected by a voice vote as the 64th Speaker of the California State Assembly. In 1996, when Hertzberg first ran for the Assembly, the Democrats had 38 of 80 seats. By November 2000, when Hertzberg was directing the Assembly Democratic campaigns, his party was up to 50 seats and he was the last Speaker to gain seats until the Obama landslide of 2008.[13] As Speaker, his principal priorities were:

  • Passing bills on alternative energy and protecting the environment
  • Public safety as with anti-gang efforts such as the CLEAR program
  • Improving the integrity of the legislative process through new ethics rules
  • Enhancing legislative oversight, which helped lead to the investigation that caused the resignation of Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush on misconduct charges
  • Passing bonds, including AB16 in 2002, to spend billions of dollars to rebuild California's infrastructure, especially elementary schools.
  • Establishing the Capitol Institute to better train legislators and their employees.

The nonpartisan California Journal rated Hertzberg the best Member in the Assembly for being a successful coalition-builder, for working the hardest and having "serious brain wattage."[14]

During his time in the Assembly, Hertzberg helped open up discussion with local business leaders, sponsored legislation to make state government more accessible to the public via the Internet, to make it easier to vote, to create more "Criminal Scene Investigations (CSI) laboratories, to cut $1.5 billion in taxes, and worked with Senate President Pro Tem John Burton and State Senator Deborah Ortiz to increase funds to revamp public education through the "Cal-Grant" Program.[15][16][17] The Cal-Grants Program was "hailed by educators as a turning point that will give poor students unprecedented access to California's colleges and universities" and Hertzberg commented upon the bill's passage, "California is back."[15] (Hertzberg believed deeply in community colleges, seeing them as the key to growth in "New Economy"). Under Hertzberg's speakership, the state also began to rebuild public transportation, and Hertzberg co-sponsored the legislation creating CLEAR, an anti-gang program, which Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley called "the most successful gang prevention program in California history."

Two years before September 11, 2001, Hertzberg was issuing warnings and sponsoring legislation to thwart terrorism. After the attacks, Hertzberg temporarily shut down the State Assembly and created the bipartisan Legislative Task Force on Terrorism to combat potential threats to California's food and water supplies.[18]

Hertzberg supported successful legislation to reduce greenhouse gases from motor vehicles by requiring low-carbon fuels, a bill passed by Assemblywoman Fran Pavley as AB1493.[19]

He was the architect of a compromise that allowed numerous school bond measures to go forward. His negotiations with State Senator Betty Karnette (D-Long Beach) allowed the State Legislature to break a decade-long legislative logjam and place school bonds on the 1998 and 2000 ballots. In 2002, he sponsored another school bond, AB16,[20] to place an additional $25.35 billion of school bonds on the ballot in November 2002 and then successfully campaigned to pass the bond. Using the framework Hertzberg designed, California was able to pass over $70 billion in school bonds. For nearly two decades, California state government had been deadlocked with a Democratic State Legislature facing Republican Governors George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson. Hertzberg and Senate President Pro Tem John Burton broke the gridlock to pass the most progressive social legislation since the 1960s.

Hertzberg organized the Speaker’s Commission on Regionalism to identify ways cities could work together to address growth issues.[21] Hertzberg told the Commission: "The winners in the New Economy will be the regions that learn to work together to relieve traffic congestion, build affordable housing, preserve open space and promote economic development. If government is going to be effective in this new age, it is going to have to start thinking regionally."[citation needed] The committee suggested swapping a larger portion of the property tax from the state to the cities for some of the cities' sales tax revenue. This, in theory, would incentivize more residential zoning and less commercial zoning to remedy the California housing shortage due to 1978 California Proposition 13, which caps property tax increases based on initial purchase price.[21]

Legacy as SpeakerEdit

With Republican Assemblyman Bill Leonard, Hertzberg worked to create the Robert M. Hertzberg Capital Institute to train new legislators and employees in state ethics rules and computer systems. After his tenure as Speaker ended, the Legislature under successor Speaker Herb Wesson named the Capitol Institute after Hertzberg.[22][23] Hertzberg also created the Speaker's Office of International Relations and Protocol. The nonpartisan magazine California Journal gave Hertzberg high marks for working hard, being intelligent, having high ethical standards and being a successful coalition-builder.[14]

Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton said of Hertzberg's tenure as Speaker: "Reviews are mixed. Hertzberg is an intense bundle of energy, an all-night negotiator, an affable, incessant hugger. But critics contend there's often more motion than forward movement."[24] Skelton noted Hertzberg's string of legislative accomplishments and ended the column with "Hertzberg cared. He tried. And he's leaving the house in better shape than he found it."[24] In the California Journal, Sherry Jeffe criticized what she called Hertzberg's "micro-management" and giving Republicans "porky bribes" to ensure passage of the budget. She also complained that he was "rolled on redistricting by Senate pro tem John Burton" and commented that "the low point for this speaker – with his penchant for organization, structure and fastidious to detail – came the last night of the 2000 legislative session when, argued one Capitol insider, 'as a result of disorganization, a great number of bills which would have been enacted fell through the cracks'."[25] Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters said Hertzberg's promise of legislative oversight of the executive branch "faded, particularly when the subjects were the energy crisis and the performance of his fellow Democrat, Governor Gray Davis."[26]

2005 Los Angeles mayoral electionEdit


A steady series of fundraising scandals, where members of Mayor James Hahn's Administration were investigated by a grand jury for allegedly awarding city contracts to campaign contributors,[27][28] and the general attitudes towards Hahn (some critics called him "Mayor Yawn" and a Los Angeles Times poll said that only 48% of voters considered Hahn honest[citation needed]) prompted many people to join the mayoral race in 2005. Antonio Villaraigosa, who lost to Hahn in 2001, had been elected to the Los Angeles City Council in 2003 while promising not to run for mayor, announced his candidacy. Other major candidates, including councilman Bernard C. Parks and State Senator Richard Alarcon, later joined the race.[citation needed]


Hertzberg termed out of the California State Assembly in 2002 and transitioned back to private law practice.[8][1] He launched his mayoral campaign in June 2004 with an extensively produced website at The website attacked Hahn's leadership and encouraged readers to donate and interact with Hertzberg. It has been likened to Vermont Governor Howard Dean's digital campaign in the 2004 Democratic Party presidential primaries, which elevated Dean's name recognition from unknown governor to apparent frontrunner.[1] Hertzberg told the Los Angeles Times that he while he made more money doing business and conducting his law practice, he ran out of a sense of civic duty.[1] However, half of Los Angeles city voters did not know much about Hertzberg.[citation needed]

Hertzberg was the first to launch a TV campaign in the race, which featured a giant image of him towering over a city full of problems.[29][30] He was endorsed by Education Secretary, and former Los Angeles mayor, Richard Riordan.[31] The Los Angeles Daily News endorsed Hertzberg.[citation needed] The African-American newspaper, The Los Angeles Sentinel, also endorsed Hertzberg, the first time they had ever endorsed a white candidate against a serious black candidate.[citation needed]

A second Los Angeles Times poll found the primary too close to call, with Hertzberg, Hahn, and Villaraigosa each with about 20% of the vote, with a very high likelihood for a runoff election.[30] Hahn's supporters ran negative mailers, linking Hertzberg and Villaraigosa to Enron and drug dealer Carlos Vignali during their time in the State Assembly.[32] An analysis by the Los Angeles Times showed that Hertzberg was popular among Hahn's base, which included San Fernando Valley residents, conservatives, moderates, and Jewish voters. However, he struggled with young, black, and Latino voters, polling less than 5% per group and well behind his opponents.[30] Hertzberg also won twice as many precincts as Hahn but fell short when Hahn's negative ads decreased his support in the Valley.[33][dead link] Hertzberg placed third in the primary election after Hahn and Villaraigosa, with the most votes of any candidates in the San Fernando Valley,.[34] A lead editorial in the Los Angeles Times, claimed a dull run-off debate between Hahn and Villaraigosa made them "miss Bob Hertzberg and his outsized ideas."[27] After missing the run-off election, Hertzberg endorsed Villaraigosa.[34] Villaraigosa would go on to defeat Hahn 59% vs 41%.[citation needed]


Hertzberg ran as a moderate Democrat.[1] His platform included the breaking up the Los Angeles Unified School District,[1] calling the District's 50% dropout rate the biggest threat to the city's future,[citation needed] despite not having any control over the department as mayor.[1] He advocated a "boroughs" system to make city government smaller, more efficient, and more accountable to the grassroots, plus giving the Mayor's office more power, especially over the school system.[citation needed] Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger did not endorse any candidates, despite his close working relationship with Hertzberg, probably due to souring attitudes towards him by the city's Democratic majority. However, he has expressed support for Hertzberg's plan to break up the Los Angeles Unified School District, although he did not specify which parts.[31]

He also opposed raising taxes for more police officers[1] while favoring synchronizing traffic lights to ease congestion.[citation needed]

He called for a "Commuters' Bill of Rights" to help ease traffic woes, using revenue bond money to build "green" infrastructure immediately, and using 25% of new revenue to upgrade the Los Angeles Police Department.[citation needed]

State Senate (2014–Present)Edit

In 2014, Hertzberg ran to represent the 18th District in the California State Senate. He won the June primary with 63.1% of the vote and the general election with 70.2% of the vote. The 18th District covers the eastern half of the San Fernando Valley, from Burbank and Sun Valley in the east to Northridge in the west and from Sherman Oaks and Studio City in the south to Sylmar in the north.

After being sworn in, Hertzberg was appointed by then-Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León to the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance, where he was also made chairman; the Committee on Elections and Constitutional Amendments; the Committee on Energy, Utilities, and Communications; the Committee on the Judiciary; and the Committee on Natural Resources and Water.

For the 2017–18 legislative session, Hertzberg kept the same committee assignments but was appointed chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources and Water and no longer served as chairman of the Committee on Governance and Finance.[35]

Under the state's term limits, Hertzberg was eligible to run for re-election in 2018. He ran and won the November 6, 2018 General Election with 78.1% of the vote.[36] He was sworn in for his second and final Senate term on December 3, 2018.[37] Soon after, Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins announced that she appointed Hertzberg Senate Majority Leader for the 2018-19 Legislative Session. [38] He is believed to be the only legislator in California's history to serve as both Assembly Speaker and Senate Majority Leader.[citation needed]

Hertzberg has focused his legislative efforts on criminal justice reform, renewable energy, social justice issues, tax reform and water management.

SB 10 (2017–18) – Bail Reform.[39] The legislation has won widespread praise, with editorials in support written by the Los Angeles Times, Mercury News, Sacramento Bee, San Diego Union-Tribune, and San Francisco Chronicle.[40][41][42][43][44]

In 2018, Hertzberg introduced a bill to identify automated social media accounts as bots with full disclosure.[45]


In August 2020, Hertzberg voted against the bill AB-345, which would have required a minimum setback distance of 2,500 between oil wells and public areas where children are present, in a 5-4 decision. The bill's author, State Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, has said that there was strong opposition from oil and gas industry trade unions, whom the Los Angeles Times has noted are major supporters of Democratic candidates. Hertzberg said that he opposed the bill because it was redundant as Governor Gavin Newsom has already signed another bill in 2019 with similar intentions of setting up buffer zones. This decision prompted the local chapter of the youth led environmental activism group Sunrise Movement to protest outside of his home in Van Nuys.[46][47][48]

Investment in renewable energyEdit

Outside of his law practice, Hertzberg has been active in the alternative energy industry. In January 2008, The Guardian named Hertzberg as one of the "50 People Who Could Save the Planet" for his investments in solar energy.[49]

Hertzberg co-founded Solar Integrated Technology in 2003[citation needed] in south-central Los Angeles.[50] It is the first solar manufacturing facility in Los Angeles.[citation needed] It won The Wall Street Journal Award for Innovation in 2005.[51][importance?] He sold his shares in the company to run in the 2005 Los Angeles mayoral race. It later debuted on Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange in May 2004.[52]

There was an increased interest and demand to invest in clean energy companies following the activation of the Kyoto Protocol in 2005, with billions invested the following year in private and public markets.[52] Hertzberg co-founded the investment firm Renewable Capital[53] in 2006 to do research and development of electronic vehicle in the U.K.[citation needed]

G24 InnovationsEdit

Hertzberg co-founded Cardiff, Wales, based G24 Innovations (G24i) in 2006 with the intentions of selling lightweight solar cells to the African market.[53] In February 2009, G24i had $100 million in venture funding.[54] The company's main focus was on silicon-less solar panels with technology rights they bought from Swiss scientist Michael Grätzel that allowed for light capture at lower rates but at any light level.[54][55] They moved into an abandoned Acer factory and it opened August 2011 with help from the Welsh Government and UK Government.[53][55] The company has gone on to win several industry awards[56] and has transitioned, and found success, selling solar strips to power iPad keyboard cases.[7] G24i went into administration in December 2012 and was later acquired in 2013 by solar cell company G24 Power in Newport, Wales.[57][58]

Public policy activismEdit

He continued to teach each year new members of the California State Legislature, both inside and outside the Hertzberg Institute.

With the Late Nancy Daly Riordan (the Former First Lady of Los Angeles) and Hollywood Director Rob Reiner, Hertzberg co-chaired for two years the First 5 preschool program to bring pre-school programs to the 150,000 4 year-olds in Los Angeles County without pre-school.[59]

He also currently serves on the Board of Advisors at former Governor Schwarzenegger's Institute for State and Global at U.S.C. along with former Mexican President Vicente Fox, former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, former Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, former San Antonio Mayor and Housing & Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros, former New Jersey Governor Christie Todd Whitman, Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann and Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, who is the chair of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.[60]

California ForwardEdit

In 2009, Hertzberg replaced future Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta as the chair of California Forward whose self-declared mission is "to work with Californians to help create a "smart" government – one that's small enough to listen, big enough to tackle real problems, smart enough to spend our money wisely in good times and bad, and honest enough to be held accountable for results."[61]

While at California Forward, Hertzberg strongly supported the redistricting reforms that assigned the decennial task of re-drawing legislative district lines to an independent Citizen's Commission and the "Open Primary" initiative (where voters can choose candidates regardless of partisan registration), all of which California voters passed via the ballot box in 2008 and 2010.

In conjunction with chairing California Forward, Hertzberg has also been a member of the Think Long Committee of California since 2009. This committee is a non-partisan civic group focused on fixing California's dysfunctional state and local government structures. The Think Long Committee promotes a vision of 21st Century government in California that is more efficient and "user-friendly" to ordinary California citizens.[61]

Hertzberg completed his service at California Forward in October 2012.

Think Long Committee of CaliforniaEdit

In 2009, Hertzberg joined the Think Long Committee of California, a bi-partisan collection of public and private sector leaders, including former Secretaries of State George Schultz & Condi Rice, former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, businessmen Eli Broad & David Bonderman, and former State Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald George. The Committee describes its mission to "Advocate a comprehensive approach to repairing California's broken system of governance while proposing policies and institutions vital for the state's long-term future."[62]

The Think Long Committee's platform to "Re-boot California's Democracy" includes:

  • Tax Reform to reduce the income while extending the sales tax to services.
  • Creating a "Rainy Day" fund for the state budget.
  • Full public transparency on initiative funding.
  • Creating a two-year legislative session where one year is dedicated to oversight of previous laws and programs to ensure effective government.
  • Aligning the skills and educational outcomes of California's master plan institutions with the needs of our cutting edge industry
  • Speeding up regulatory approvals to spur job creation.
  • Realigning, where appropriate, government functions from Sacramento to regional and local governments, thus saving money and increasing accountability.
  • Creating a non-partisan Citizens Council for Government Accountability, which would be empowered to place initiatives directly on the ballot for public approval, will ensure that the public's priorities are protected.[63]

Los Angeles Economic Development CorporationEdit

Hertzberg has twice served as chair of the L.A.E.D.C., in 2004 and 2011, the largest economic development agency in the country. As Chair, Hertzberg lead successful trade missions to China, Japan, and Korea among other nations, helping to create bi-lateral investments and trade.[64]

During his first term as LAEDC Chair, he co-founded the Southern California Leadership Council, which includes former California Governors Deukmejian, Wilson and Davis, to work on consumer goods movement and infrastructure, among other issues.[65]

Political advisory rolesEdit

After Arnold Schwarzenegger's election as California governor in the 2003 recall election, Hertzberg served as both a formal and informal advisor to Schwarzenegger. In 2003, Schwarzenegger appointed him to his Transition Committee[66] and Hertzberg helped guide the passage of the new governor's "Economic Recovery Package" through the Legislature that allowed the state to weather the financial crisis of 2003–04. According to The People's Machine by Joe Matthews, Schwarzenegger then offered Hertzberg the position of Chief of Staff, nicknaming him "Hertzie."[67] Hertzberg chose to stay in the private sector but did advise Schwarzegger to "build a thoroughly bipartisan government." Hertzberg wrote in the Los Angeles Daily News that his advice was: "Take the initiative to go and meet with members of the Legislature, Democrats and Republicans alike. Sit in their offices, meet with them as human beings, and learn to work with them."[67]

After finishing a close third in the 2005 mayoral election, Hertzberg served as the chair of Mayor-elect Villaraigosa's Transition Team.[citation needed]

In 2009, Hertzberg also served as the co-chair of the Transition Team for newly elected Los Angeles City Attorney, Carmen Trutanich.[citation needed]

Civic affairs/public policy activismEdit

Hertzberg has stayed involved in policy debates and formulation through his service on numerous boards of public policy committees and several universities, including:

  • Board Member, 2005 to 2011, Town Hall Los Angeles[3]
  • Member, University of Southern California College of Letters, Arts and Sciences Board on History and Culture, 2005 to 2009.
  • Fellow, USC Keston Institute for Infrastructure
  • USC Price School of Public Policy, Board of Councilors[62]
  • Board of Visitors for Pepperdine School of Public Policy, Member[68]
  • California Historical Society, Trustee to 2007
  • National Speaker's Conference, Honorary Member, Executive Committee
  • Valley Industry and Commerce Association (VICA), Board of Directors to 2007
  • Board Member, Rose Institute of State and Local Government at Claremont McKenna College[69]
  • Century Housing Corporation, Board of Directors, 2003–2008[70]
  • Member, Executive Committee, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Member, Council on Foreign Relations[citation needed]
  • Center for Governmental Studies, Board Member
  • Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), Board Member to 2008
  • Southern California Leadership Council, Board Member.
  • California Center For Regional Leadership, Board Member, 2005 to 2009.[71]
  • Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, Chairman 2004 and 2011.[29]
  • Los Angeles World Affairs Council, Board Member 2008 to 2011.[31]
  • California Forward, Leadership Council co-chair 2009 to 2012 (see above).
  • Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), Board Member
  • Nominated by Governor Schwarzenegger to serve on Climate Change Strategy Panel 2010.
  • Metropolitan Water Committee, Blue Ribbon Committee, 2010–2011.
  • Member, Think Long Committee of California, 2010 to present (see above).[62]
  • Elected member of the Board of Directors to The China-US Energy Efficiency Alliance, a nonprofit organization working to combat global climate change by promoting industrial energy efficiency in China, 2012 to present.[29]
  • Board of Advisors, Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy at the University of Southern California.[72]

Public imageEdit

Hertzberg calls himself a "New Democrat" in the mold of Bill Clinton, who is both pro-business and pro-labor.[71] He is a proponent of regionalism, open primaries, and a non-partisan State government.[50]

Hertzberg has been given the nicknames "Huggy" and "Hugsberg" for his habit of offering embraces to colleagues, employees, voters and even opponents.[73] Republican consultant Tony Quinn described Hertzberg as the "Energizer Bunny with a 150 I.Q. – always willing to discuss policy."[citation needed] Despite being out of office for a decade, the journal Capitol Weekly has repeatedly named him one of the Top 100 influential people in Sacramento, writing in 2011: "Bob Hertzberg is one of those hyper-kinetic, Type-A personalities who love politics for its own sake. He's a former Assembly speaker, an L.A. lawyer and a go-to guy for his ideas on political reform. Amazingly, he was a sort of adviser to former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and he continues to be an insider Democrat with his fingers in lots of pies."[74]

Assemblyman Darrell Steinberg commented on Hertzberg's role as a link between Schwarzenegger and the State Legislature, saying that Hertzberg would report "what the Democratic legislative line was — where we couldn't go and where we were willing to go. And he had the trust of the principals on both sides, which helped quite a bit."[75] In his autobiography Total Recall, Arnold Schwarzenegger relates how he went to meet with Speaker Hertzberg in 2002 to seek support for his successful "After-school" initiative:"[76]

"One of my first stops was Bob Hertzberg, the Speaker of the Assembly. Bob is a smart, ebullient from the San Fernando Valley, about the same age as Maria. He's so friendly that his nickname is Huggy. Within two minutes, we were swapping jokes. 'What's not to like?' he said about our ballot proposition. But he warned me not to expect support from the Democratic Party itself. 'God forbid we should endorse a Republican initiative,' he wisecracked."

— Arnold Schwarzeneggar, Total Recall

Workplace misconduct accusationsEdit

Hertzberg came under public scrutiny for his lingering embraces as two female lawmakers and a former female legislator complained that the intimate embraces made them uncomfortable, according to an interview by the Sacramento Bee.[77] Two of the women said that Hertzberg hugged them again even after they had asked him to stop.[77]

A former California Assemblywoman said that after she told Hertzberg she wasn't a hugger, he grabbed her anyway.[77] "It was like dirty dancing. It was gross," she told the Sacramento Bee.[77] "I was really just kind of horrified, because you don't do that. You just don't do that. It was so out of context and inappropriate."[77] The Assemblywoman also described Hertzberg's actions in one hug as "clearly a sexual thing, rather than a friendly thing."[78] The Assemblywoman told Hertzberg: "Don't touch me." Hertzberg responded by grabbing the Assemblywoman, pinning her arms by her side and thrusting his groin against her pelvis. Hertzberg then restricted the Assemblywoman from moving away, forcing prolonged torso-to-torso contact despite her shouting at him to let her go.[79]

The former California Assemblywoman declined to meet with lawyers hired by the California Senate to investigate her allegation concerning Hertzberg in stating that "I don't want any involvement with these people," and "I don't respect how they've handled it."[80] While the California Senate ordered him to stop hugging co-workers after an investigation determined that his behavior made two female legislators and a male sergeant-at-arms uncomfortable,[81] the summary report of the investigation released by outside lawyers concluded that Hertzberg's hugs were "not sexual in nature."[82] According to the Los Angeles Times report detailing the conclusion of the investigation, the report found that Hertzberg likely hugged the Former Assemblywoman on one occasion, but it said "the record did not support her assertion that he hugged her on multiple occasions or that he did so after she asked him to stop."[83] Hertzberg was reprimanded.[84]


The issue came up in the media again when a man connected to the bail industry set up a "Victims Hotline" website and video in December aimed at collecting stories about the Senator – just days after the allegations surfaced.[85] A video circulating on Facebook was found to be produced by backers of California's bail industry; an industry Hertzberg is trying to reform.[86] Adama Iwu, one of the founders of the We Said Enough movement in the Sacramento Capitol, added that it appeared that the bail agent was taking advantage of the situation "for some kind of political gain."[85]

Another California lawmaker who had been suspended amid a sexual misconduct investigation sued the California Senate. The Latino lawmaker argued that race was playing a role in his treatment, noting that Hertzberg, who is white, had not been asked to step aside despite allegations he inappropriately hugged people.[87] The former California Assemblywoman who complained about Hertzberg's conduct also questioned why Hertzberg had been able to continue his work as a lawmaker during the investigation of his conduct when the other California lawmaker (who is Latino) was barred from showing up in the building as allegations against him were being investigated.[88]


While in at the University of Redlands, he wrote a 400-page handbook, A Commonsense Approach to English. In 1983, he coauthored a manual on real estate law, California Lis Pendens Practice, published by the University of California, with a second edition in 1994.


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Political offices
Preceded by
Antonio Villaraigosa
Speaker of the California Assembly
Succeeded by
Herb Wesson
California Senate
Preceded by
Bill Monning
Majority Leader of the California Senate