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Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Irvine)
Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) (Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call)

The Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC hoping to defend vulnerable GOP members in the midterm, is setting up shop in a fifth California district. 

The group, which launched four other offices in California last year, recently added Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) to its program. Walters is one of the Democrats’ top targets heading into this year’s midterm, despite having won by 18 percentage points in 2016.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, which is endorsed by House GOP leaders, is trying to counteract the barrage of ads and protests from the left that have targeted GOP members, particularly on their votes to curtail the Affordable Care Act and pass the controversial tax bill. 

Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock), right, shakes hands with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.
Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock), right, shakes hands with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. (Douglas Graham)

Central Valley Rep. Jeff Denham is being more open about his desire to lead the powerful House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

“This is a committee I’ve really shown a great deal of leadership on, but as chairman I’ll be in a better position to fight for California’s needs as well as [needs] across the country,” said Denham, a Republican from Turlock.

Denham isn’t the most senior member of the committee, but the GOP weighs more than seniority in deciding who gets the gavel.

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

Faced with the threat of an embarrassing Senate vote to suspend him, state Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) agreed Wednesday to take a one-month paid leave of absence. 

Mendoza said he made the decision after a four-hour closed session with Senate Democrats who were considering a rare vote of suspension because of concern over allegations that he harassed three former aides.

“I thought that to accommodate that and to take away any appearance of impropriety or any appearance of giving any special influence, I have decided I will take a leave of absence for this month to allow the investigation to move forward,” he said, adding he will return Feb. 1 or when the investigation is completed, whichever comes first.

  • Governor's race
  • 2018 election
  • California Democrats
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Gubernatorial candidate John Chiang’s longtime political advisor has resigned after new consultants were hired to change the direction of the race the state treasurer is running, a campaign official said on Wednesday.

The person, who spoke to The Times on condition of anonymity to freely discuss internal personnel moves, said Parke Skelton decided to leave the campaign after new consultants were hired around the end of the year.

“The campaign was planning on making a change in direction a little bit after the first of the year — ramp up the team, build capacity and bring in additional talent with the intention of collaboration,” the official said. “Somewhere along that line, Parke made the decision he wanted to resign. It’s unfortunate because that wasn’t the intention.”

  • California Legislature

Amid jubilant cheers and applause, Wendy Carrillo took to the Assembly floor for the first time Wednesday, thanking her parents in Spanish and pledging to work for every person who calls California home.

“I recognize that we must protect … our most vulnerable in our society and those whose voices ought to be amplified,” she said. 

The daughter of immigrants and a former radio show host, Carrillo became the newest member of the state Assembly after she won a special election in Los Angeles in December. She will serve out the term of former Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, who was elected to Congress last year in his own special election to replace Xavier Becerra, who was appointed state attorney general.

  • California Legislature
(PR Newswire)

A new bill in the state Legislature would prohibit the sale of any gasoline-powered car in California after 2040.

The measure, AB 1745, from Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) would only allow zero-emission vehicles to be sold after Jan. 1, 2040. Ting said the bill is necessary to meet California’s pollution reduction goals.

“California has long led the nation in promoting environmental protection and public health through visionary policies and technological innovations,” Ting said in a statement. “It’s time that we clear the path for emissions-free transportation and take significant steps to achieve our ambitious emissions reduction goals.”

  • California Legislature
Sen. Tony Mendoza, left, during a legislative session last year.
Sen. Tony Mendoza, left, during a legislative session last year. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

A former aide to state Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) has filed a written complaint alleging she was discriminated against and harassed by the lawmaker, and that she was improperly fired after she complained to other Senate officials.

The complaint by Adriana Ruelas was filed with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which looked at the allegations and then closed the case, giving Ruelas the ability to file a lawsuit against Mendoza and the Senate.

Micha Star Liberty, an attorney for Ruelas, declined to say whether a lawsuit is planned.

Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia), left, talks last year about a pending bill with Sen. Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado Hills).
Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia), left, talks last year about a pending bill with Sen. Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado Hills). (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Just hours before a Republican lawmaker will seek a Senate vote to expel him over sexual harassment allegations, state Sen. Tony Mendoza on Wednesday offered his most detailed denial of wrongdoing yet, distancing himself from lawmakers accused of inappropriately touching women.

He called on his colleagues to wait for the results of an investigation before seeking additional sanctions.

Republican Sen. Andy Vidak of Hanford plans to seek a vote on a resolution to expel Mendoza, while Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) has asked Mendoza to take a leave of absence pending the results of an investigation, a request Mendoza has denied.

  • California Legislature
  • Sexual harassment
Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Glendale, left, and Assemblywoman Marie Waldron, R-Escondido.
Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Glendale, left, and Assemblywoman Marie Waldron, R-Escondido. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

California legislative leaders announced Wednesday that the state Senate and Assembly will for the first time work together to examine how sexual harassment complaints are handled in the Capitol.

The joint committee, led by Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) and Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), will look at procedures to better protect victims of misconduct. Critics of the Legislature’s current process have often pointed out that the two houses have their own policies to handle complaints, causing confusion and inconsistencies for people who work in the Capitol.

The announcement comes as legislators return to the Capitol for their first day of work in 2018.

  • California in Congress

President Trump has nominated Marie Royce of Fullerton to be assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs.

Her husband, Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton), is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which has jurisdiction over the State Department, including education and cultural programs.

An aide on the foreign affairs committee said the congressman was not involved in the appointment and that oversight of the State Department will not change if Marie Royce is approved by the Senate. She isn’t the first spouse of a senior member of Congress to be picked to join the Trump administration. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).