SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A California state senator has been told to stop hugging people after an investigation concluded that his trademark embraces made multiple female colleagues uncomfortable.
However, the investigation released Thursday found Sen. Bob Hertzberg’s frequent hugs are not intended to be sexual and more often than not are not unwelcome.
Hertzberg, a Democrat from the Los Angeles area, has earned nicknames such as “Hugsberg” and “Huggy Bear” for greeting men and women alike with giant hugs.
The Senate Rules Committee formally reprimanded him on Tuesday and told him not to hug people anymore, but he will not otherwise face discipline.
Hertzberg released a letter apologizing to anyone who felt his frequent embraces were unwelcome. The 63-year-old said he has greeted people with hugs all his life and they were intended as “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. “It is my responsibility to be mindful of this.”