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State Sen. Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado Hills)
State Sen. Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado Hills) (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Two years ago, state Sen. Ted Gaines (R-Rocklin) asked his chief of staff to resign after hearing that the man had been accused of sexual harassment, but later put the aide on the payroll of his political campaign.

Steve Davey left Gaines’ legislative staff in 2015 after a complaint was made that a female subordinate felt uncomfortable with his treatment of her, which included unwanted physical contact, according to documents released Friday by the Senate. The complaint filed said that on two occasions, Davey put his arm around the staff member when they were at public events. Davey also yelled at her in front of others, according to the complaint.

Gaines issued a statement Friday that said he took the accusations seriously when he heard about them in December 2015 from personnel officials.

  • California Legislature
  • Sexual harassment
Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens)
Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

A former staffer to Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) said the lawmaker discussed vulgar topics in the office and once encouraged her aides to play spin the bottle, according to a filing submitted to the state.

David Kernick alleged in a complaint to the state’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing that he was terminated from his position in Garcia’s district office in 2014, shortly after he raised concerns about Garcia urging staffers to play “spin the bottle” in her hotel room after a fundraiser. The complaint was first reported by Politico.

Kernick is one of four staffers who accused Garcia of fostering an improper work environment, including allegations that she discussed sex and used alcohol at work, in a letter to the Assembly last week. The remaining staffers remain anonymous.

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  • Governor's race
  • California Democrats
State Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), the incoming Senate leader.
State Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), the incoming Senate leader. (Rich Pedroncelli / AP)

Democrat Toni Atkins of San Diego, who in March will become the first woman to lead the California Senate, has endorsed Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom for governor.

Atkins praised Newsom’s record on addressing homelessness and affordable housing during his two terms as San Francisco mayor, saying he has been a politician who has not hesitated to “take chances to do the right thing.”

“He shares my passion for ensuring that every California family can afford a safe roof over their head and can live in a community near where they work, play, attend school and pursue their dreams,” Atkins said in a statement released by the Newsom campaign.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. (Jeff Chiu / AP)
  • Governor's race
  • 2018 election
  • California Democrats

California gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom pushed back forcefully on Friday against a suggestion that his camp had anything to do with the surprise candidacy of Democrat Amanda Renteria for governor. An advisor to Antonio Villaraigosa’s campaign speculated that Newsom’s team wants Renteria in the governor’s race in an effort to split the Latino vote.

“It’s absurd. And sad at the same time,” Newsom told reporters after receiving U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris’ endorsement at USC. “To somehow suggest we’re part of it — I read that with bemusement. It is factually unequivocally, absolutely untrue.”

Newsom, currently California’s lieutenant governor, was responding to Mike Madrid, a Villaraigosa advisor, telling KQED that “something just doesn’t smell right” with the hasty, last-minute rollout of Renteria’s campaign. Madrid said he believes “the dots are there” to connect Renteria, a former Hillary Clinton aide who also worked for California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra, with Newsom’s campaign.

Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida are released from lockdown after Wednesday's mass shooting.
Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida are released from lockdown after Wednesday's mass shooting. (John McCall / South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

Two days after a mass shooting in Florida, a California lawmaker is seeking to revive a measure that would allow school staffs and coworkers to seek a court order to remove guns from people they believe are a danger to the public.

Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) wants to expand the current law that allows family members and law enforcement officials to seek an emergency restraining order from judges based on rulings that the person owns guns and poses a public risk.

The current law, enacted after the 2014 mass shooting in Isla Vista, Calif., allows judges to order the confiscation of guns for up to 21 days.

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  • California Legislature
Medical marijuana vials are filled at a dispensary in Venice.
Medical marijuana vials are filled at a dispensary in Venice. (Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)

Californians have been able to use marijuana as medicine for two decades, and soon their sick pets may also be able to take advantage of cannabis’ health benefits.

State Assemblyman Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) has introduced a bill that would require the Veterinary Medical Board to establish guidelines for licensed veterinarians to discuss the use of cannabis for animals.

“It is critical for the protection of our beloved pets that knowledgeable veterinarians be allowed to discuss the safe use and medicinal value of cannabis products already available to California consumers,” Kalra said.

  • 2018 election
  • California Republicans
  • California Democrats
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Starte Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia).
Starte Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia). (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

The state Senate Rules Committee on Friday received the results of an investigation by outside attorneys into sexual harassment allegations against Democratic Sen. Tony Mendoza of Artesia, setting the stage for the panel recommending next week whether discipline is warranted.

The panel spent two hours behind closed doors discussing the report, which is confidential. The review comes a day after Mendoza sued the Senate, seeking a court order to reinstate him from a forced leave of absence and declaring the investigation is biased and violated his rights to due process.

“The Committee will take the facts and findings under advisement and return on Tuesday ... to finalize recommendations to the body on the matter,” the panel said in a statement. In addition, if disciplinary action is recommended, the facts and findings of the investigation will be presented to Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans on Wednesday.

  • California Legislature
LAPD Officer Matthew Zeigler uses facial recognition technology on suspects in a gang–-related home invasion arrest in Los Angeles.
LAPD Officer Matthew Zeigler uses facial recognition technology on suspects in a gang–-related home invasion arrest in Los Angeles. (Damon Winter / Los Angeles Times)

A state lawmaker has revived legislation that would require law enforcement agencies across California to disclose all of their surveillance equipment and enact public policies for their use of the technology.

The bill by Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) also would require officers to fill out a report every two years on how they have used the tools. Police departments would have to seek approval from their city council on their public surveillance policies. Sheriff’s departments and district attorney’s offices would not, but the proposal would not stop county boards of supervisors from requesting their disclosure.

Similar laws drafted by Hill in previous years already exist for automatic license-plate readers and devices that simulate cellphone towers, known as Stingrays. But a Los Angeles Times review of records from 20 of the state’s largest police and sheriff’s departments, plus the Alameda County district attorney’s office, found some agencies had been slow to follow or have ignored the law.

  • Governor's race
  • 2018 election
  • California Democrats
(Phil Willon / Los Angeles Times)

Sen. Kamala Harris plans to endorse Gavin Newsom in the California governor’s race Friday, according to a Newsom campaign official.

The move is not surprising — the two Democratic politicians share the same political advisors, began their careers in San Francisco city politics and have known one another for more than two decades.

They each got their start in politics thanks to former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, who appointed them to political positions.

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