Local Politics

Wednesday, Apr 18 2012 05:47 PM

Assemblywoman Grove accused of unfairly maligning colleague

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    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    In this file photo, now-Assemblywoman Shannon Grove stops in at a North of the River Chamber of Commerce meeting to mingle and speak to the organization.

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BY CHRISTINE BEDELL Californian government editor cbedell@bakersfield.com

A Watsonville lawmaker is considering filing an ethics complaint against Bakersfield Assemblywoman Shannon Grove for charging at a fundraiser that he doesn't say the Pledge of Allegiance during legislative sessions.

Democratic Assemblyman Luis Alejo says the allegation by Grove, a Republican, is completely untrue and as the son of a military veteran, he takes it very seriously.

“Regardless of recent allegations, I do recite the pledge of allegiance along with other members of the State Assembly during session," Alejo said in a statement to The Californian Wednesday evening. "I was happy to lead the Assembly in the pledge last year and look forward to the opportunity to lead the pledge again. My father is a Vietnam-era veteran of the United States Army. I respect our flag and what it symbolizes.”

His staff sent a link to a video showing Alejo leading the pledge.

In a written statement to The Californian Wednesday, Grove did not deny making the accusation. Rather, she seemed to double-down on it.

"As a military veteran, it grieves my heart when I see the U.S. flag disrespected," Grove said. "I was sharing what I've witnessed on several occasions over the past few months during the flag salute on the assembly floor. I was upset by what I saw and paid close attention to it."

Grove served in the Army for three years after high school, including at Headquarters Company, 5th Corps in Frankfurt, Germany, doing administrative work.

Grove spokeswoman Kristina Brown said the assemblywoman was too busy to talk to a reporter.

"She has bills up today," Brown said.

Grove's comments apparently came to light in a weekly newspaper story published April 11, the Monterey County Herald reported Wednesday. It said the Monterey Bay Area News quoted Grove as saying at an April 5 fundraiser for GOP candidate Rob Bernosky of Hollister that "The person who represents you doesn't say the Pledge of Allegiance."

Bernosky is running against Alejo.

According to The Herald, the weekly newspaper "said Grove described Alejo as fidgeting, checking messages, shuffling papers and generally avoiding (the pledge) before 'mumbling a few words at the end.'"

This isn't the first time Grove has struck a nerve with her words.

In February 2011 she said lawmakers needed to focus on creating private-sector jobs "instead of raping our taxpayers," drawing condemnation from an assembly colleague, a Los Angeles Times political columnist and an organization that provides crisis intervention services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Critics thought the word "raping" trivialized victims of sexual assault. Grove was unapologetic in a written statement at the time, saying she was "using the dictionary definition of the word."

Grove represents the 32nd Assembly District, which includes most of Bakersfield. Because of redistricting, she's running for re-election in the new 34th Assembly District, which has much of the same territory locally. She's facing Democrat Mari Goodman of Tehachapi, a union organizer.

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