California State Sen. Ben Hueso was arrested in Sacramento Thursday on suspicion of driving under the influence, authorities say.
Hueso, a Democrat from San Diego, holds the 40th Senate District seat.
The 44-year-old lawmaker was allegedly driving the wrong way on a one-way street near the state Capitol building, KCRA reports. Newly released surveillance video from a Sacramento gas station (shown above) catches a CHP officer pulling Hueso over and conducting sobriety tests on him.
CHP officers arrested Hueso at 2:39 a.m. He was then booked into the Sacramento County jail at 3:42 a.m.
Just before noon Friday, Hueso was released from police custody after posting bail of nearly $1,500. He walked up and down the sidewalk outside the county jail holding paperwork and not saying much about the arrest.
"I think I have the right to pursue my innocence and that's what I'm going to do," Hueso said.
Hueso told reporters he would not comment further until the process was over. He then climbed into the front passenger seat of a black SUV with tinted windows and drove away.
Around 12:20 p.m., the following statement was issued from Hueso's office via email:
"I am truly and profoundly sorry for the unacceptably poor personal judgment which I demonstrated last night. As someone who cares deeply about the public safety, I sincerely apologize to my family, my constituents and my colleagues in the Senate for breaching the trust they’ve all placed in me. I accept complete personal responsibility for my actions and any punishments that ultimately come my way as a result of this incident. I will also engage in immediate, corrective actions to ensure this kind of personal conduct is never repeated."
Hueso was among the guests at a dinner hosted Thursday night by the Latino Legislative Caucus at a restaurant in downtown Sacramento, held to recognize members who are being termed out or leaving for other offices, but the dinner ended about 9 p.m., said Roger Salazar, a spokesman for the caucus told the Associated Press.
The Sacramento Bee published a photo showing Hueso and other members of the state's Latino Caucus drinking on a balcony at the state capitol.
The image that the newspaper reports was posted to Twitter by Assem. Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) at 11:21 p.m. Thursday has since been deleted.
A spokesperson for Gonzalez told NBC 7 she has no comment on the picture or on Hueso's arrest. When pushed, the spokesperson told our reporter to get back to real issues, like getting sick days for working people.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said he was dismayed by the arrest.
"It's a lapse of personal judgment, and I'm only glad that no one was hurt," Steinberg said.
He said it was too early to say whether Hueso would face discipline from the Senate.
"Driving under the influence is not only against the law, it puts people in serious danger, and that's not acceptable," Steinberg said.
Hueso represents Chula Vista, National City, Imperial Beach, Coronado, a portion of the City of San Diego, Imperial County and the southern part of Riverside.
His constitutents expressed surprise and disappointment about the news.
“It’s almost expected from our politicians. It happens a little too often,” said San Diego County resident Kristine Toves said.
Constituent Mary Ann Daluz said lawmakers are role models. “They represent our city and they should know better,” she said.
“We’re all human, we do mistakes, but he’s somebody up in the ranks,” Chula Vista resident Eddie Garcia said. “He could’ve thought about it twice.”
Hueso is the fourth Democratic state senator to be entangled in legal trouble. Three others, who were charged in unrelated cases, have been suspended with pay from the Senate.
Sen. Rod Wright of Inglewood was convicted for lying about living in his district, while Sens. Ron Calderon of Montebello and Leland Yee of San Francisco are fighting unrelated federal corruption charges.
Before serving in the State Senate, Hueso held the 80th District seat in the California Assembly from 2010 to 2013.
He also served on on the San Diego City Council from 2006 to 2010 and as Council President from 2008 to 2010.