The Latest: Suspended California lawmaker sues state Senate
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on sexual misconduct at the California Legislature (all times local):
A California lawmaker has sued the state Senate for suspending him amid a sexual misconduct investigation.
Democratic Sen. Tony Mendoza of Artesia is seeking reinstatement in his lawsuit filed Thursday with one of his constituents as a co-plaintiff.
Mendoza says the Senate’s suspension was unconstitutional and is depriving his constituents of representation in Sacramento.
The Senate gave power to the five-member Rules Committee in January to unilaterally suspend Mendoza’s leave of absence, which he took amid prodding at the start of the year. The suspension is now set to end in 60 days or when the investigation concludes.
Mendoza says he’s never been given details about the scope of the investigation against him and is being treated differently than other lawmakers accused of misbehavior.
He is accused of behaving inappropriately toward three young women who worked for him.
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, a former Democrat, did not immediately comment.
The public’s right to know about accusations of misconduct against lawmakers was the chief topic of discussion among a panel tasked with revamping the California Legislature’s harassment policies.
The nine-member group of lawmakers met Thursday, a day after allegations of misconduct escalated against Democratic Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, a leader of the #MeToo movement.
Employment attorneys called to testify said they public should be given the chance to judge misconduct allegations for themselves. But one attorney with enforcement expertise says the Legislature should wait until allegations are substantiated before sharing details.
The Legislature until recently refused to disclose confirmed instances of harassment. Legislative leaders released documents Feb. 2 detailing substantiated claims in the past decade.
The panel also discussed creating an independent body to review misconduct complaints.
A California leader of the #MeToo movement faces new allegations of misconduct in her office, just days after she took a leave of absence amid an investigation into claims she groped a former legislative staffer.
San Diego lawyer Dan Gilleon has filed a formal complaint on behalf of four anonymous former staffers of Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia. None of the new allegations involve physical contact, but Gilleon said the former employees considered Garcia’s frequent talk about sex a form sexual harassment.
The complaint also alleges a hostile work environment in Garcia’s office.
Garcia says the claims don’t square with the atmosphere she worked to create.
She denies the groping allegation.
The fresh claims came as a committee tasked with revamping the Legislature’s sexual harassment policies prepares to meet Thursday.