Quick Take:

A Cabrillo College committee investigating complaints of inappropriate and offensive language on trustee Steve Trujillo’s Facebook found that the posts do exist on his page, but could not verify Trujillo’s claim that his account had been hacked. The governing board will decide Monday whether Trujillo violated the school’s code of ethics, but said policies that would allow the board to censure a trustee over social media posts didn’t exist until recently.

Cabrillo College’s governing board is set to decide Monday whether college trustee Steve Trujillo violated the school’s code of ethics because of social media posts containing profanity and insults against prominent Republican politicians.

But a board committee created to investigate a complaint against Trujillo is recommending that the board not formally censure him because policies allowing it to take formal action against a trustee over offensive social media posts weren’t in place at the time.

In September, the college’s governing board said it had received a complaint against Trujillo alleging that he made posts on Facebook using profanity and referring to politicians like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Donald Trump, as well as Supreme Court justices, as “f—-rs,” “wh–es,” and “stupid as—-es,” among other epithets.

Cabrillo College trustee Steve Trujillo and his dog, Pepita.
Cabrillo College trustee Steve Trujillo and his dog, Pepita. Credit: Via Steve Trujillo

In a report in the board’s agenda posted online Thursday, the two committee members — trustees Rachael Spencer and Martha Vega — said that their investigation found that the offensive posts had appeared on Trujillo’s Facebook page. But they said that they couldn’t verify Trujillo’s claim that his Facebook account had been hacked.

If the hacking claim is false, the committee members said the board could decide that Trujillo violated the college’s code of ethics requiring trustees to “act with integrity and reflect the values of trustworthiness, respect, fairness, and caring” as part of their role at the college.

“We wish to make clear that this investigation and report are not about Trustee Trujillo’s politics or positions on social issues,” the trustees wrote, adding that the “mixing of his appropriate posts associating him with the College, alongside posts with profanity and epithets about women, has created confusion for some in our community as to whether or not Trustee Trujillo is speaking for the College.”

However, the committee also recommended that Trujillo not be formally censured by the board because policies that would allow the board members to take action against a trustee who had repeatedly published offensive social media posts didn’t exist until recently.

The board updated its code of ethics for trustees Oct. 2 to require that “verbal and written communications, including email, social media posts, and trustee comments should refrain from offensive language and avoid bringing the college and board’s reputation into disrepute.” Under the updated policy, a trustee who repeatedly makes such comments can be censured and prohibited from serving as an officer of the board for three years.

Trujillo told Lookout on Thursday that he notified the college of two websites that can be used to hack into people’s Facebook accounts, and that Facebook notified him that it had to temporarily shut down his account. In its report, the committee said it found no evidence of a hack, but Trujillo said he thinks the committee did not sufficiently investigate the information he provided.

“I am pleased to note that there will not be any motion of censure because I don’t deserve it,” he said. “So that’s very good news. But I don’t think the committee did a sufficient job in looking at the two websites that I found that people use to break into Facebook.”

Trujillo said that he does not refer to women as “wh—s” and that he is not a misogynist. He added that he has been a frequent subject of attack during his time in elected office, and that he has gotten used to it.

“I’ve become rather philosophical about the fact that when you stand up for something, and it’s not always popular, you’re going to get attacked,” he said. “I guess I’m a lightning rod for people who hate those of us who are woke, progressive and unafraid to speak our minds, and I’m going to be like that until the day I die.”

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Max Chun is the general-assignment correspondent at Lookout Santa Cruz. Max’s position has pulled him in many different directions, seeing him cover development, COVID, the opioid crisis, labor, courts...

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