Lawmaker known as 'Huggy Bear' warned about hugging people

A California politician has been formally reprimanded after an investigation substantiated claims that he engaged in unwelcome hugging.

A report released Thursday shows that state Sen. Bob Hertzberg had already been warned before by Senate leadership that his behavior had been making people uncomfortable, but he nonetheless continued, WESH reports.

The behavior would earn him the nicknames "Hugsberg" and "Huggy Bear."

Along with detailing his past incidents, the report on Hertzberg explicitly told him to "not initiate hugs."

"You cannot solve the problem by asking someone if a hug is unwelcome or welcome," it stated, "because a person may not feel comfortable telling you it is unwelcome."

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LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 03: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Senator Bob Hertzberg attends the Berggruen Institute: 5 Year Anniversary Celebration at The Beverly Wilshire on May 3, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Berggruen Institute)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 20: Andy Kane, Sharon Harroun Peirce and Bob Hertzberg attend a Reception In Honour of The British Ambassador To The United States at the British Consul General?s Residence on June 20, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/WireImage)
VAN NUYS, CA NOVEMBER 13, 2014 -- Bob Hertzberg the newly elected California state senator photographed in his office filled with memorabilia at his Van Nuys home on November 13, 2014. The former state Assembly Speaker is back in the Sacramento political scene after several years in the private sector and talks about his new role. (Photo by Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 29: Senator Bob Hertzberg;Noreen Farrell, executive director of Equal Rights Advocates, a co-sponsor of SB 358, George Pla, Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de Leon and Patricia Arquette speak on equal pay and the SB 358 California Fair Pay Act at a press conference with California Lawmakers at North Hollywood Amelia Earhart Regional Library on December 29, 2015 in North Hollywood, California. (Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images)
VAN NUYS, CA NOVEMBER 13, 2014 -- Bob Hertzberg the newly elected California state senator photographed in his office filled with memorabilia at his Van Nuys home on November 13, 2014. The former state Assembly Speaker is back in the Sacramento political scene after several years in the private sector and talks about his new role. (Photo by Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Mayoral candidate Bob Hertzberg joins hands with former Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan during an election night party inside the Balboa Ballroom at the Airtel Plaza Hotel. (Photo by Rick Loomis/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
VAN NUYS, CA - MARCH8: Los Angeles Mayoral candidate Bob Hertzberg gives a speech to supporters, along with his wife Cynthia Telles (L), at his campaign headquarters on March 8, 2005 in Van Nuys, California. Hertzberg is currently running second, behind Mayor James Hahn, in the LA mayoral race. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)
Mayoral candidate Bob Hertzberg campaigns at the LA Farmer's Market Sunday, March 6, 2005. (Photo by Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - MARCH 2: Mayoral candidate Bob Hertzberg holds a news conference to expose what he calls fraud in opponent Mayor Jim Hahn's plan to add police officers March 2, 2005 in the Los Angeles area community of Encino, California. Hertsberg, who called the news conference to make his accusations, instead was confronted by reporters on claims by the mayor that Hertzberg accepted $13,000 from the disgraced Houston-based Enron Corp and secretly worked with former Enron chief Kenneth Lay to craft a $12 billion bailout proposal to protect energy companies during California's energy crises. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
Mayoral candidate Bob Hertzberg speaks as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger listens at a press briefing following Hertzberg's meeting with the governor on 2/25/05 at Schwarzenegger's Santa Monica headquarters. Hertzberg presented the governor with a plan for the LAUSD and they talked about education reform. (Photo by Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS - FEBRUARY 22: Bob Hertzberg, candidate for mayor of the city of Los Angeles speaks during party at The Firm on February 22, 2005 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
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Among the encounters confirmed by the Senate Rules Committee involving the Los Angeles-area Democrat were instances that saw him "likely" hugging former Assemblywoman Linda Halderman, hugging a female senator until she had to ask him to stop and "danced briefly with his backside against a male Sergeant at Arms in a manner that was unwanted and made the Sergeant uncomfortable.

Halderman also claimed that he once constricted her arms in the Capitol hallway as he grinded his groin into her, but the Senate report failed to address that incident and confirm if it took place.

In a statement, Hertzberg noted how the report concluded his "motivation for hugging is not sexual in nature" but also apologized to anyone "who felt my hugs were unwelcome," deeming them "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," the former California Assembly speaker said. "It is my responsibility to be mindful of this."

The committee has warned Hertzberg that if further incidents occur, he will face "more severe discipline."

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