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Correction: California Legislature-Sexual Misconduct story

January 13, 2018

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — In a story Jan. 11 about an annual party to kick-off the California legislative session, The Associated Press erroneously reported the reason for rapper Too Short’s performance being cancelled. Organizers cancelled the performance because of concern about a rape allegation, not his lyrics. The claim was never substantiated and his manager said it was an extortion attempt.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Sex misconduct allegations change tone of Capitol event

An annual party to kick-off California’s new legislative year took a new tone Thursday night in the wake of sexual misconduct revelations at the Capitol

By KATHLEEN RONAYNE

Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — An annual party to kick-off California’s new legislative year took a new tone Thursday night in the wake of sexual misconduct revelations at the Capitol.

Rather than the traditional remarks from legislative leaders, lobbyist Paula Treat took the microphone to kick off the party at a downtown Sacramento bar with a reminder of changed sensitivity around such events.

“We want it to be a safe and fun event,” said Treat, who has spoken out about harassment she experienced during her career as a California lobbyist. “I want to thank all of the strong women in this room who I hope one day will not be afraid to say if something is going wrong.”

Treat told everyone to look for uniformed security guards to report behavior that made them uncomfortable.

Her remarks were an explicit acknowledgment that a cultural shift is under way in Sacramento after sexual misconduct allegations forced two lawmakers to resign and another into a leave of absence as he faces an investigation. Several of the alleged incidents occurred at bars for after-work events with alcohol.

The goal of the 13th annual “Back to Session Bash” is still the same: Provide a place for lobbyists, legislative staffers and lawmakers to catch up and let loose before the intensity of the legislative session picks up. They party on the dime of Native American tribes and corporate clients who sponsor the party, which has cost up to $150,000 in years past. Free drinks and food, a photo booth and a stage for musical acts decorated the room as crowds of people milled about.

The organizers handed out 1,500 tickets, but a number of women at the event said it seemed smaller and more subdued that in years past.

Organizers cancelled a performance by Oakland rapper Too Short the morning of the event after hearing concerns about an unsubstantiated rape allegation made against him in March 2017 which he denies, organizer David Quintana said.

Too Short, whose name is Todd Shaw, was never charged with a crime or interviewed by investigators, his manager David Weintraub said. The allegation was made by a former artist on the rapper’s label who Weintraub accused of engaging in a publicity stunt or extortion attempt.

“It’s just unfortunate that some false allegations could prohibit him from being part of such a great cause,” Weintraub said Friday afternoon.

Organizers said they were responding to attendees who felt an appearance by someone accused of misconduct wouldn’t be appropriate.

“While at this time no charges have ever been filed in this case, we appreciate that there are many in the Capitol community who have voiced concerns about his performance,” Quintana said.

Organizers and attendees say there’s value in letting people get together and blow off steam when they’re still optimistic about the session ahead and haven’t yet started bruising legislative debates.

“Back to Session Bash is great way for capitol community to get together before they have to go in the field of the battle,” said lobbyist and organizer David Quintana.

But he was cognizant of the new dynamics in Sacramento. Pictures of the Capitol weren’t featured at the event, and the legislative leaders weren’t given an opportunity to speak, even though many attended.

“We decided we didn’t want the legislators to be associated with an event like this,” he said. “In this new era we think it’s inappropriate.”

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