Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi was a rising star in Sacramento until the revelation in October that she had been arrested and charged with shoplifting nearly $2,500 worth of merchandise from the Neiman Marcus store in San Francisco.
The accompanying photo shows the San Francisco Police Department mugshot taken at the time of her arrest (see attached PDF). It portrays quite a different look for the legislator, whose official pictures show her with perfectly styled hair and makeup, finished with a slash of red lipstick.
Hayashi spokesman Sam Singer has called the incident "a mistake and a misunderstanding."
Singer says Hayashi, who carries two cellphones, was distracted by texting and phoning when she inadvertently stepped out of the store with a bag in her hands.
She has pleaded not guilty to felony shoplifting charges and is free on $15,000 bail. The next scheduled court date in her case is Dec. 7.
Hayashi is a Democrat who has served in the Legislature since 2006.
She represents the 18th Assembly District, which includes San Leandro, Hayward, Dublin and the unincorporated areas of Ashland, Cherryland and San Lorenzo. She also represents most of Castro Valley, Pleasanton and a portion of Oakland.
Her husband is Alameda County Judge Dennis Hayashi.
Her celebrity and the nature of the charges — she is accused of taking a pair of leather pants, a black leather skirt and a white blouse — have aroused public interest.
A recent profile by the Bay Area News Group describes Hayashi as a role model for Korean-Americans, a self-made woman and a hard-charging legislator who had carved out a position of influence among colleagues in Sacramento.
The article reports that Hayashi has $800,000 in a campaign fund to run for state Senate in 2014, but adds this concluding note: "Now she faces an early departure from the Legislature and ending her political career in disgrace."