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Staffer Accuses Assemblyman of Threats

January 31, 1998|CARL INGRAM | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SACRAMENTO — In a rare action, a legislative staff member has filed a complaint charging Democratic Assemblyman Roderick Wright of Los Angeles with assaulting him and threatening to break his jaw in an alleged dispute over a gun bill.

Staffer Geoff Long filed the charge with the Assembly Rules Committee on Thursday night against Wright, a freshman legislator who represents a district in South-Central Los Angeles.

Capitol veterans said the formal complaint may be the first of its kind filed with the committee.

Long, chief consultant to the Assembly Appropriations Committee and a legislative employee for 15 years, said Wright pushed him by the shoulders against a wall Wednesday and then threatened three times to break his jaw.

The altercation occurred after a Wright bill on gun safety was defeated by the Appropriations Committee, which attached amendments to the measure. The amendments came from the committee's staff and Wright was apparently angered by them, Long said.

In an interview several hours before the complaint was filed, Wright refused to say whether he and Long had a confrontation. "If Mr. Long has a grievance, he should file it," Wright said.

Wright insisted he never "'confronted" Long and said, "There is nothing that has occurred, that I am aware of, that I would call physical."

Wright did not return calls Friday seeking comment.

Long said Wright "erupted" when he attempted to discuss the defeat of the bill, which dealt with safety standards for firearms.

"Shut up or I'll break your [expletive] jaw. I will. I will do it," Long said Wright told him.

Long said the incident occurred in a hallway near the Assembly chambers and was witnessed by Betty Yee, also a committee staffer, who filed a statement with the Rules Committee in support of Long's complaint.

Jon Waldie, chief administrative officer of the Assembly Rules Committee, which governs internal affairs of the lower house, confirmed that Long had filed a complaint. But Waldie declined to make the document public, saying the dispute is a confidential personnel matter.

Waldie said he was uncertain how to proceed because no one could recall a similar case.

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