Harassment case puts US Senate prospect under spotlight

Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017|8:40 p.m.

SACRAMENTO, Calif.– News that a sitting California senator is being investigated for unwanted sexual advances versus a young female employee has actually put a fresh spotlight on a legal leader this week as he begins a quote versus the state’s very first female U.S. senator.

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, the Democratic leader of the state Senate, heads the committee in charge of personnels staff members who manage workplace problems. De Leon likewise rents a room in the Sacramento house of Democratic Sen. Tony Mendoza, the male accused of incorrect conduct, de Leon representative Anthony Reyes said.

Mendoza is accused of consistently welcoming a young woman who operated in his office through a fellowship program to the house, although she never ever went. Mendoza said in a statement that he would never purposefully abuse his authority, though his declaration didn’t resolve the accusation that he welcomed her to his home.

Late Saturday, the Sacramento Bee reported that a second young woman has accused Mendoza of behaving wrongly towards her when she was a 19-year-old intern in his district workplace in 2008. A spokesperson for Mendoza stated the woman’s claims were “totally incorrect,” the Bee reported.

The woman, now 28, came forward with her accusations after media reports this week of the Senate investigation into Mendoza’s reported behavior toward the very first lady, inning accordance with the Bee.

De Leon said through spokespersons that he did unknown about the problem versus Mendoza or his alleged invitations to the girl. De Leon’s allies have actually downplayed the two senators’ relationship.

But De Leon’s handling of impropriety at the Capitol will likely play a role in his U.S. Senate quote versus Sen. Dianne Feinstein, among California’s most popular women in politics and a powerful U.S. senator.

“It really does seem like we’re at this inflection point with sex harassment accusations where suddenly they’re being taken seriously,” said Kim Nalder, director of the Job for an Informed Electorate at California State University-Sacramento. “It’s difficult to imagine that Kevin de Leon’s bid will be completely untarnished by this discovery that someone near to him was implicated of this kind of misbehavior.”

The current accusations against Mendoza, which follow almost 150 women signed a letter 3 weeks ago calling harassment prevalent in the capital culture, shed further light on the Senate’s dirty processes for examining its own members.

After the preliminary protest about harassment in mid-October, De Leon and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon right away promised to review the Legislature’s policies. De Leon hired an outdoors private investigator, and the Senate asked ladies to speak to her.

De Leon stated at the time that “everyone deserves a workplace devoid of worry, harassment and sexual misdeed.”

That declaration was made prior to the allegations about Mendoza became public. A month earlier, the Senate began investigating Mendoza, Senate Secretary Danny Alvarez validated.

A former staff member of Mendoza’s grumbled to the Senate Rules Committee in September that the senator had consistently behaved inappropriately toward a young woman who worked for him through the Sacramento State fellows program, stated Micha Liberty, a legal representative for the worker. That month, the staff member and two others in Mendoza’s office were fired. The Senate and Liberty contest the timing of the firings relative to the grievance.

Mendoza and Alvarez stated the shootings had nothing to do with the grievances. Liberty, however, stated her client explained she was accusing Mendoza of sexual harassment towards the fellow, and she was forced to sign a confidentiality arrangement when she was fired. Liberty would not name her client and did not offer a copy of the privacy letter.

Mendoza stated he did not know about the complaint till the he was gotten in touch with by the Sacramento Bee. A spokesman for the university, Brian Blomster, said the university did not know either.

The Senate’s policy says the deputy secretary for personnels will meet individuals named in grievances or those who might have understanding, and will attempt to treat investigations as private. Alvarez did not straight address a concern about when, if ever, de Leon would be notified about an investigation in his role as head of the Senate Rules Committee.

“As the process needs, the Senate will act as soon as Senate Rules completes their investigation,” he said.

De Leon’s spokespeople decreased to make him readily available for an interview with The Associated Press on accusations of Capitol harassment regardless of repeated demands, including on Friday. They did not answer Friday when asked if de Leon had actually spoken with Mendoza considering that news of the allegations versus him broke or if he planned to strip Mendoza of his committee chairmanship. Mendoza heads the Senate Banking, Insurance Coverage and Financial Institutions Committee and sits on other crucial committees.

De Leon campaign spokesman Roger Salazar indicated his deal with gender equity and combating school sexual attack as proof of his record on women’s problems. “We’re not going to be able to stop people from being outrageous in aiming to play politics with this issue,” Salazar said.

Feinstein’s allies, however, stated the allegations at the Capitol will injure de Leon.

“De Leon is challenging a feminist icon,” stated Nathan Ballard, a Democratic strategist support Feinstein. “There is now a dark cloud of impropriety surrounding de Leon that will not make him incredibly popular with Sen. Feinstein’s base of Democratic females.”

It’s hard to determine the full scope of unwanted sexual advances claims at the Capitol because lawmakers protect examinations from disclosure. The Senate and Assembly both declined requests for information from the AP about how many sexual harassment investigations led to discipline because 2012, mentioning personal privacy concerns. The Senate reported that because time it has actually examined at least 6 unwanted sexual advances problems, although it’s uncertain if that tally includes Mendoza.

When complaints are dealt with, workers who make them might never ever get paperwork spelling out the results. Rather, the Deputy Secretary for Person Resources “will orally report the findings and conclusions to the worker,” according to the Senate harassment policy.

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