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State bill: Convicted politicians banned from office for 20 years (updated)

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Politicians who are convicted of a felony related to violating the public's trust would be prohibited from running for any elected office in California for 20 years, under a bill sponsored by an Assemblyman whose chief of staff is running for office against a candidate charged with 18 felonies.

Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, D-Sylmar, sponsored AB 2410, which was unanimously approved today by the state Assembly. The bill would ban elected officials from running for office until 20 years after their sentence, including probation, ends.

The bill would apply to felony convictions for accepting bribes, embezzling public funds, perjury or conspiracy to commit those crimes.

The chief of staff to Fuentes, Raul Bocanegra, is currently running for the Assembly against Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon, who is facing 18 felony charges for allegedly living outside of his district. The case, which includes allegations of voter fraud and perjury, was dismissed earlier this month, and then immediately refiled by the district attorney’s office. Alarcon has pleaded not guilty.

A spokesman for the Alarcon campaign told KPCC, "We endorse this legislation but we are saddened that Assemblyman Fuentes wrote loopholes into his bill that would allow people who have broken sexual harassment and driving under the influence of alcohol laws to still be able to run for office."

Bocanegra was convicted of drunk driving 10 years ago. The charge was later expunged, according to the Los Angeles Times. The LA Weekly has reported that Bocanegra faced a sexual harassment allegation "several years ago."

Last month, Alarcon engaged in a similar act of using legislation for political gain in the race. The councilman asked that the city’s conflict of interest laws be clarified, particularly in cases where City Hall staffers have worked on major housing development projects.

That request came one day after Alarcon accused Bocanegra of obtaining an interest-free city loan to buy a condominium in a Pacoima development he worked on as an aide to then-Councilman Alex Padilla.

The primary for the 39th Assembly seat will be on June 5. 

This post has been updated.

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