As we previewed yesterday, sexual harassment stories involving the powerful in and around government are plaguing the political world.
California's capital was stunned Monday when Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra abruptly announced he would be resigning effective next September — a statement sent as The Times was preparing a report on six women accusing him of sexual harassment over a number of years.
Melanie Mason and Dakota Smith have a special report about allegations against Bocanegra, a Democrat, which span the length of his career in state government as a chief of staff, a candidate for office and a legislator. The claims range from emails soliciting dates with a subordinate to uninvited physical contact with women he did not know.
"He grabbed me with one hand, grabbed my head and shoved his tongue into my mouth," Sylvia Castillo said in an interview, alleging Bocanegra "pounced" on her at the Sacramento nightclub Mix in August 2010. "With his other hand, he put it up my dress. I put my hand down to stop him from trying to grab at my crotch."
Several women came forward in response to Bocanegra's own statement to The Times last month when the paper reported on allegations he groped a fellow legislative staffer in 2009. Bocanegra, who represents the northeast San Fernando Valley, said in that statement that the "unfortunate experience…was something I regret and learned from."
The women who spoke with The Times said they felt he hadn't actually learned from the experience.
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon called the accusations "deeply disturbing" and said he would move for Bocanegra's expulsion from the Legislature if an investigation affirmed the allegations.
As the news rippled through the Capitol, other political figures weighed in. Mason and Jazmine Ulloa report that some of Bocanegra's colleagues were unsatisfied with his plans to step down in September 2018.
"Why does he get to set the timeline? I find it too convenient," said Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), chair of the Legislative Women's Caucus. "If he can't represent his constituents properly, why is that in September —why isn't it now?"
"I have concerns that we are going to get rid of this one person and pressure him to resign, and we are going to have a false sense that we have accomplished the goal," she said.
Nury Martinez, whose husband works for Bocanegra, also called on the assemblyman to call it quits. She did not, however, address any of the incidents the women alleged took place at her home.
If you have experienced harassment in politics or government, you can share your story at latimes.com/harassment.
NATIONAL POLITICS LIGHTNING ROUND
There were several other reports Monday about prominent figures accused of sexual harassment or misconduct.
-- The New York Times suspended White House reporter Glenn Thrush after a Vox report about his behavior. The Times said it is investigating the claims and that it supports Thrush's decision to seek alcohol abuse treatment.
-- The Washington Post published a graphic report about female employees who allege Charlie Rose of CBS mistreated and groped them when they worked for his PBS program.
-- A second woman said Sen. Al Franken touched her inappropriately.
The White House said
Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet L. Yellen submitted her resignation Monday, effective when her successor is sworn in. That means Trump will have another seat to fill on the central bank's board.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson disputed rumors of low morale at the State Department
Get the latest about what's happening in the nation's capital on Essential Washington.
WHERE VILLARAIGOSA MADE HIS MONEY
Former L.A. Mayor
We'll have details on our Essential Politics news feed, so check there.
Villaraigosa is the last major Democratic candidate to do so. Here's what we learned from Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom's filings.
-- A San Pedro man threatened to kill Rep.
-- Republican activists were given the green light Monday to launch a petition drive aimed at qualifying a measure for the November 2018 ballot that would repeal recently enacted gas taxes and vehicle fees meant for road repairs and mass transit improvement. They need to collect 587,407 signatures of registered voters.
-- Herb Wesson endorsed Villaraigosa on Monday.
-- Top Democratic donor Tom Steyer is taking his effort to impeach Trump to New York City's Times Square with billboard ads that will run until New Year's Day.
-- The holiday version of the California Politics Podcast is all about UC system President Janet Napolitano.
Essential Politics is normally published Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but we've shifted publication to today due to the holiday week. We'll be back Monday.
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