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  • California Legislature
  • Sexual harassment
(Los Angeles Times)

Sexual harassment investigations by the Calfornia Legislature cost taxpayers $294,271 from early 2006 through the end of last year, according to a document provided Friday to the Los Angeles Times.

Most of the money was spent by the Assembly in 2017 in the wake of intense scrutiny of misconduct under the state Capitol dome. The document marks the first time legislative officials have revealed the cost of outside investigators in examining claims against lawmakers, staff members and others.

Of the total amount, almost $144,000 was spent by the Assembly last year to investigate eight allegations. The Senate, which reported hiring no outside help on investigations from 2006 to 2016, spent slightly more than $47,000 last year in examining seven allegations.

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Eighteen alleged cases of sexual harassment, ranging from sharing of pornographic photos to a staff member accused of grabbing a woman’s buttocks and genitals, were publicly disclosed by the California Legislature on Friday, detailed through investigation records that had been shielded in some cases for more than a decade.

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  • California in Congress
  • 2018 election
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) in October.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) in October. (Susan Walsh / Associated Press)

California’s Republican members of Congress are opening their wallets to help a financially strapped campaign to qualify an initiative that would repeal the state’s recent increases in gas taxes and vehicle fees.

If the effort works, it might drive a November turnout among voters who favor repealing the tax hikes — at a time when Republicans need a boost. 

Among the contributors is Rep. Devin Nunes of Tulare, who has been in the headlines for very different reasons. Nunes, who campaigns against the gas tax back home, contributed $50,000 to Give Voters a Voice, the group reported Thursday.

  • Congressional races
  • 2018 election
Rep. Scott Peters (D-San Diego) has nearly 10 times as much money in his campaign account as his nearest competitor.
Rep. Scott Peters (D-San Diego) has nearly 10 times as much money in his campaign account as his nearest competitor. (Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call)

There are four California Democrats whom Republicans are attempting to unseat in the midterms, and a year-end checkup of their finances shows they seem to be doing just fine.

Rep. Scott Peters of San Diego and Rep. Raul Ruiz of Palm Desert led their nearest challengers in cash on hand by seven figures. Peters raised $361,218 in the last quarter of 2017 and had $2.2 million in the bank. His closest competitor, Michael Allman, loaned himself $300,000 and still had only $267,419 in cash on hand.

Ruiz put the most distance between himself and his challengers, raising $493,951 last quarter and amassing a total of nearly $2.1 million. Kimberlin Brown Pelzer, a soap opera actress and avocado farmer, raised a respectable $175,832 in her first quarter as a candidate, but that left her with just $146,663 in cash on hand.

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A new arrival has her handcuffs removed after arriving at a girls detention center in Santa Clarita.
A new arrival has her handcuffs removed after arriving at a girls detention center in Santa Clarita. (Los Angeles Times)

Dozens of people charged as adults for crimes they committed when they were under 18 will have a chance to move their cases to the juvenile justice system under a ruling issued Thursday by California’s highest court.

The state Supreme Court, affirming a lower-court ruling, found certain provisions of Proposition 57 could retroactively apply to some pending cases. The ballot measure, which was approved by voters in 2016 and has overhauled the state parole system, prohibits prosecutors from charging young defendants in adult court without a judge’s approval.

Under the state Supreme Court’s ruling, offenders charged as adults before Proposition 57 became law — and whose cases are not on final appeal — are now eligible for a hearing to request that their cases be moved to the juvenile justice system.

  • Congressional races
  • 2018 election
GOP Reps. Darrell Issa, Mimi Walters, Ed Royce and Dana Rohrabacher represent Orange County districts Democrats are targeting.
GOP Reps. Darrell Issa, Mimi Walters, Ed Royce and Dana Rohrabacher represent Orange County districts Democrats are targeting. (Los Angeles Times, Roll Call, Associated Press, Getty Images)

Democrats have a few problems to sweat over in this year’s midterm elections: winnowing their vast fields of candidates and navigating California’s top-two primary system, to name a couple. 

But in Orange County, a key battleground as they attempt to take back the House, money doesn’t seem to be one of them.

Incumbents in all four Orange County districts held by Republicans raised less money than some of their challengers in the last quarter of 2017. The reports cover fundraising through Dec. 31, before Reps. Ed Royce of Fullerton and Darrell Issa of Vista announced they were bowing out. Their seats are two of the likeliest to flip to Democrats in November.

Gov. Jerry Brown has earmarked $117 million in his new state budget to expand the number of treatment beds and mental health programs for more than 800 mentally ill inmates found incompetent to stand trial.

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(For The Times)

Citing limited options for raising local taxes, the association representing hundreds of California cities warned that rising public employee pension costs might mean fewer services and longer emergency response times over the next several years.

“These pressures are not only mounting, but will force cities to make very tough choices in the next seven years and beyond,” said Carolyn Coleman, executive director of the League of California Cities.

The organization Thursday released a new analysis showing that 16% of the general fund budget in an average large city will go toward pension payments in just seven years’ time — close to double the percentage paid for those retirement stipends as of mid-2007.

State Treasurer John Chiang
State Treasurer John Chiang (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

State Treasurer John Chiang criticized Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom for his stance on single-payer healthcare Thursday, saying his chief rival in the governor's race has flip-flopped on the issue.

Chiang and fellow Democratic candidate Antonio Villaraigosa have expressed concerns about the cost of establishing a state-sponsored universal healthcare program, which could run from $330 billion to $400 billion a year depending on various estimates.

Newsom has been a strong advocate for the idea, saying California needs a governor who isn’t afraid to take bold action. But Chiang, speaking to the Public Policy Institute of California in San Francisco on Thursday, accused Newsom of changing his tune.