Lawmaker may lose influential post over harassment claims
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California’s Senate leader said Friday that state Sen. Tony Mendoza should lose his committee chairmanship and other influential posts following allegations that he acted inappropriately toward women.
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon said he will ask the Rules Committee to remove Mendoza, a Democrat from Artesia, as chairman of the Insurance, Banking and Financial Institutions Committee and seek to revoke Mendoza’s positions representing the Senate on boards and commissions.
An investigation into Mendoza’s conduct will be transferred to an outside firm, which will be selected by a panel that includes three Democratic senators, a lobbyist and two senior Senate staffers, de Leon said.
The action comes a day after a former Mendoza aide told The Sacramento Bee newspaper that the senator acted inappropriately toward her in 2010, when he was serving in the Assembly. Haley Myers said Mendoza texted her repeatedly, sometimes telling her “thinking of you” late at night, and invited her to after-hours events. She said she initially thought he was trying to mentor her but came to believe his actions were inappropriate.
Mendoza had earlier faced allegations of acting inappropriately toward two other aides, including repeatedly inviting a young woman who worked as a fellow in his office last year to his house to discuss job opportunities.
Mendoza could not immediately be reached for comment.
“Like many in our caucus, I’m deeply troubled by the quantity and specificity of accusations against Sen. Mendoza,” de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrat, said in a statement.
De Leon moved out of a room that he had been renting in Mendoza’s Sacramento house shortly after the first allegations against Mendoza were revealed. De Leon said he knew didn’t know about them.
Accusations of harassment have put a spotlight on de Leon, who is influential in Sacramento but relatively unknown outside the Capitol as he challenges longtime U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a fellow Democrat.
Allegations of sexual harassment have rocked the Capitol amid a national conversation about misconduct against women by men in power.
The Legislative Women’s Caucus on Thursday called for a unified review of Capitol harassment policies involving both legislative houses and both parties, saying the Legislature must root out a “pervasive culture of abuse of power.”