The political community has been dealt another devastating blow. Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus, has been hit with sexual harassment allegations. She gained national recognition for being at the forefront of the #MeToo movement. Her picture was included in the highly coveted TIME magazine Person of the Years edition which honored the “Silence Breakers”. [adsenseyu2]
The movement was rooted in women feeling supported about going public with mistreatment by men while working in the CA state capitol. Garcia went as far as to co-author a bill providing whistleblower protections for the women who came forward. Now that bill will cover the men who have levied allegations against Garcia.
“This is a momentous occasion for all of California, and particularly legislative staff. The foundation to any government by and for the people is one rooted in transparency and accountability. And today, the Legislature, with the stroke of the Governor’s pen, just became the example for the nation for whistleblower protection,” said Melendez. “Victims can now feel empowered that the system is there to protect them for speaking out rather than punishing them.”
Multiple men have come forward with sexual harassment allegations against Asm. Garcia and have also noted her affinity for alcoholic beverages.
Politico is reporting:
Daniel Fierro of Cerritos told POLITICO that in 2014, as a 25-year-old staffer to Assemblyman Ian Calderon, he was groped by Garcia, a powerful Democratic lawmaker who chairs the Legislative Women’s Caucus and the Natural Resources Committee.
He said she cornered him alone after the annual Assembly softball game in Sacramento as he attempted to clean up the dugout. Fierro, who said Garcia appeared inebriated, said she began stroking his back, then squeezed his buttocks and attempted to touch his crotch before he extricated himself and quickly left.
Another former staffer remarked about Asm. Garcia:
Another former legislative staffer, who spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of reprisals, said Garcia was known to speak about sexual issues to young staffers in the office, sometimes in graphic detail, and occasionally to be a hard drinker in Sacramento.
California Legislative Women’s Caucus Vice Chair Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) wants Garcia. In a statement released by her office she says anyone proven to have sexually harassed or assaulted another person, without regard to their gender, should be held accountable for their actions.
Assemblymember Autumn Burke was also investigated for sexual harassment claims involving Jarron Brady, a former Congressional Fellow in her office.
Brady was first brought to the public’s attention when area ministers were concerned about language in an education bill.
Sacobserver.com reported 54 members of various churches visited the Sacramento offices of Los Angeles-area legislators and voiced their concern with Senate Bill 1146. Also known as the Equity in Higher Education Act, the bill– before it was amended–would have made it easier for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students at religious colleges to sue for discrimination if they are penalized for violating church doctrine.
In a Facebook post Burke explained why she was supporting the bill and also noted the ministers questioned the faith of one of her staffers because he was openly gay. Brady was the staffer in question.
Last week legislators released the first round of names involved in investigations of allegations of sexual harassment. In 2016 Burke admitted to engaging in hardcore sex talk with office staff and dismissed it as an “after hour’s conversation with an openly gay member of her staff”, which took place in her Sacramento office. Brady would leave her employ shortly thereafter. Brady refused interview requests.
Jessica Levinson, a professor of law and political ethics at Loyola Law School of Los Angeles — and the current president of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission — said that, if proven true, the accusations against Garcia threaten to seriously damage the nationwide movement that has been credited with bringing the issue of sexual harassment into the open.
“Hypocrisy knows no bounds and no partisanship, it crosses all party affiliations,’’ she said. “To the extent that these are substantiated claims, there’s a picture of Cristina Garcia as a hypocrite in the dictionary.”
Burke and Garcia appear to be out to fool voters. One knew they admitted to wrongdoing and the other one is probably gonna blame the alcohol. What other bills have they signed on to gain free media attention for their upcoming re-election campaigns?
Oh, and should men’s sexual harassment complaints be taken just as seriously as women’s?