California Assembly staffer quit amid harassment probe
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A high-level staffer in the California Assembly resigned this year during an investigation that found it likely he sexually harassed two female employees, according to documents released Friday.
The documents are the latest released by the Legislature after leaders promised to proactively disclose completed investigations where accusations against lawmakers or high-ranking staffers are found to be substantiated, meaning investigators find it “more likely than not” the behavior occurred.
The complaint against Rodney Wilson, who was chief of staff to Assemblyman Tom Daly at the time, claims he was drunk and slurring his words on the final night of the legislative session last year. Two female Assembly employees said he made sexually suggestive comments and leered at them, according to the documents.
An investigation by an Assembly human resources consultant found Wilson “likely” engaged in the behavior based on interviews with Wilson, the two women and two witnesses.
Wilson resigned his job as Daly’s chief of staff in January after the Assembly began investigating the allegations, the records show.
“While I disagree with the ‘more likely than not’ conclusions of this investigation and believe I should be able to review the Report, I respect the Assembly’s process in dealing with the complaint,” Wilson said in a statement. “I sincerely apologize to those who may have been offended by their perception of the way I looked at them or what they believe they might have heard. My resignation had nothing to do with these allegations.”
Daly said he had not heard about the allegations before Friday.
“I fully support the work of the Assembly toward reinforcing our zero-tolerance policy on harassment,” the Anaheim Democrat said in a statement.
The alleged inappropriate behavior occurred in September on the last night of the legislative session, when celebratory drinking is not uncommon.
The investigator interviewed the women who made the allegations in October, about two weeks after more than 140 lobbyists, staffers and other women signed an open letter describing a culture of harassment at the Capitol. The letter launched the California Legislature into the national spotlight as one of the most high-profile institutions grappling with pervasive sexual misconduct.
Since then, three lawmakers have resigned amid harassment allegations. Complaints of misconduct against several other lawmakers and top-level staffers also have surfaced.
Top lawmakers have promised to reform the Legislature’s policies on reporting and investigating misconduct at the Capitol, a process advocates have criticized as opaque and flawed.
The Assembly notified Wilson and the two women in March that the investigation was completed, according to the documents.