Advertisement
  • California Legislature
  • Sexual harassment
Lawyer Dan Gilleon represents four anonymous staffers accusing Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) of improper behavior at work.
Lawyer Dan Gilleon represents four anonymous staffers accusing Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) of improper behavior at work. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

A lawyer representing four anonymous former staffers of Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) filed a letter with the Assembly on Wednesday, alleging the legislator had created an inappropriate workplace environment.

The allegations, unveiled in an unusual news conference on the steps of the state Capitol, involve alcohol use in the office and raunchy conversations about sex.

The letter comes on the heels of accusations by two men that Garcia made improper advances on them. Garcia has denied wrongdoing and went on unpaid leave while the matter is investigated.

Advertisement
Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman
Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton) will take the reins of the California Legislative Caucus, the group announced Wednesday, filling the vacancy created by Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia’s leave of absence over sexual harassment allegations.

Eggman will serve as “acting interim chair” of the bipartisan group, which has been influential in shepherding legislation pertaining to women, children and families. The caucus also has taken a lead role in responding to the sexual misconduct controversies that have engulfed the Capitol in recent months.

Those controversies hit particularly close to home last week, when Garcia was accused by two men of making improper advances. Garcia has denied wrongdoing, but voluntarily took unpaid leave pending an investigation into her conduct.

Advertisement

With a little over three weeks left before the candidate filing deadline, Democratic candidates are starting to turn on each other in California’s crowded House races. 

In the 48th Congressional District, where Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is facing several well-funded challengers, Democrat Harley Rouda has just unleashed a pair of attack ads against one of his primary opponents, Hans Keirstead.

In one of the ads, called “Preposterous,” Rouda accuses Keirstead of lying about his credentials and making up a “phony story” about House Democratic leaders promising him plum chairmanship appointments if he’s elected. 

Amanda Renteria, a top aide to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, is stepping down from her post at the California attorney general’s office to run for governor, according to Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra.

  • California Legislature
  • Sexual harassment
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

For the second time in as many years, state Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) filed papers Wednesday to establish a legal defense fund, this time to raise money from political supporters to cover his legal expenses as he faces an investigation into allegations that he sexually harassed three female aides.

“The senator is required to defend himself in administrative, Senate and civil proceedings that are related to his conduct in office,” Mendoza’s filing says. “In or around December 2017, a former employee of the Senate filed a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. In her DFEH complaint the former employee alleges she was terminated after reporting allegations that the senator had made a Senate fellow feel uncomfortable.”

The filing notes that the fair employment department issued the woman a right-to-sue notice and she has since filed a claim for damages to the Senate, a prerequisite to filing a civil action. It had not report any fundraising as of Wednesday.

Advertisement
Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia).
Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia). (Steve Yeater / Associated Press)

Christine Pelosi, the chair of the state Democratic Party’s Women’s Caucus, is criticizing Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) for introducing 15 bills this week even though he is on a leave of absence pending an investigation of sexual harassment allegations.

Pelosi blasted the action on Twitter: #WeSaidEnough to the FARCE of #CASenate's Tony Mendoza being "on leave" for sexual harassment allegations but STILL being allowed by the Senate to introduce legislation.”

Mendoza spokesman Saeed Ali said the staff’s submittal of the bills was cleared with the Secretary of the Senate. The deadline for introducing bills for the year is Friday. Ali said that was done “in order to protect Senator Mendoza's ability to introduce legislation and meet legislative deadlines.”

Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia).
Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia). (Steve Yeater / Associated Press)

Christine Pelosi, the chair of the state Democratic Party’s Women’s Caucus, is criticizing Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) for introducing 15 bills this week even though he is on a leave of absence pending an investigation of sexual harassment allegations.

Pelosi blasted the action on Twitter: #WeSaidEnough to the FARCE of #CASenate's Tony Mendoza being "on leave" for sexual harassment allegations but STILL being allowed by the Senate to introduce legislation.”

Mendoza spokesman Saeed Ali said the staff’s submittal of the bills was cleared with the Secretary of the Senate. The deadline for introducing bills for the year is Friday. Ali said that was done “in order to protect Senator Mendoza's ability to introduce legislation and meet legislative deadlines.”

  • California in Congress
(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield said Wednesday he hasn’t spoken with President Trump about a job as his chief of staff.

“I have not spoken with the president about anything about a job, and I never have and there is no job opening,” McCarthy said when asked about rumors he may be among the picks to take the job during House Republicans’ weekly press conference.

“Oh, geez,” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said in response to the question. 

Advertisement
State. Sen Ed Hernandez (D-Azusa)
State. Sen Ed Hernandez (D-Azusa) (Francine Orr)

As states led by Republicans prepare to impose tough new conditions for Medicaid recipients with the Trump administration’s blessing, a California legislator wants to ensure no such requirements would be enacted here.

State Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-Azusa) has introduced a bill that would bar the state from asking the federal government’s permission to impose work or volunteer requirements in order for low-income residents to be eligible for Medicaid, known in California as Medi-Cal.

Last month, the Trump administration issued guidance that, for the first time in the program’s history, it would consider allowing states to enact work or community service requirements to qualify for Medicaid. 

Sen. Tony Mendoza has continued to introduce bills even while he is on a leave of absence
Sen. Tony Mendoza has continued to introduce bills even while he is on a leave of absence (Steve Yeater / Associated Press)

Despite being on a leave of absence pending a sexual harassment investigation, state Sen. Tony Mendoza has introduced 15 pieces of legislation this week, including a measure that would remove the Legislature’s exemption from state audits.

A representative of the Senate said the action does not violate the terms of Mendoza’s leave because his office is allowed to continue operating in his absence.

Friday is the last day for bills to be introduced for this session and most of the bills introduced by Mendoza are measures known as “spot bills,” which state a general topic but are meant to be amended later to include specific law changes.