A female California lawmaker who has been at the forefront of the #MeToo movement is being accused by multiple men of lewd groping, one of which acts is the object of an official probe by the state legislature.
State Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, Los Angeles County Democrat, is being investigated by the Assembly Rules Committee over passes made against another lawmaker’s male aide.
Daniel Fierro told Politico that in 2014, Ms. Garcia, whom he said seemed drunk, caught him alone after the Assembly’s softball game, stroked his back, squeezed his butt and tried to touch him in the groin area.
Mr. Fierro was able to get away unscathed but did not tell his boss, Assemblyman Ian Calderon, at the time.
“Who wants to be that guy that Cristina Garcia is going after?” he told Politico.
However, he did tell at least two Assembly staffers at the time of Ms. Garcia’s behavior, each of whom confirmed that fact to Politico.
“He was in shock, I was in shock — but the culture was very different back then,’” said Lerna Shirinian, Mr. Calderon’s communications director.
Mr. Fierro told Mr. Calderon, his former boss, about the incident with Ms. Garcia in January in the wake of the #MeToo movement. The Assembly Rules Committee began its investigation shortly afterward, Politico reported.
“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,” Politico wrote.
A second man, a lobbyist who spoke to Politico on condition of anonymity, described a similar assault at a fundraiser at the capital’s De Veres bar.
“She came back and was whispering real close and I could smell the booze and see she was pretty far gone,” the man said. “She looked at me for a second and said, ‘I’ve set a goal for myself to f– you.’”
According to the lobbyist, who fears reprisals from a powerful lawmaker, she tried to grab his crotch and he replied “That ain’t gonna happen.”
In a statement Thursday to Politico, Ms. Garcia said she had “zero recollection” of the claimed events.
“Every complaint about sexual harassment should be taken seriously and I will participate fully in any investigation that takes place,” she said, while adding that the purported victims had never complained.
“The details of these claims have never been brought to my attention until today,” her statement to Politico said.
“Such behavior is inconsistent with my values,” she concluded.
Those values include Ms. Garcia signing a Sacramento letter citing the hashtag #WeSaidEnough protesting sexual harassment, and telling the New York Times that men had repeatedly assaulted her at the state Capitol in Sacramento.
“Multiple people have grabbed my butt and grabbed my breasts,” she told the Times. “We’re talking about senior lobbyists and lawmakers.”
Her image was even prominently used in the Dec. 15 issue of Time naming the “Silence Breakers” on sexual harassment as the magazine’s Person of the Year.
“I didn’t know I was part of the story,” the assemblywoman tweeted at the time “I’m proud of this work, and proud of the company I’m in,” including the popular hashtags #MeToo and #WeSaidEnough.
Ms. Garcia also crowed on Twitter earlier this week about helping pass the Legislative Staff Whistleblower Protection Act, calling it “essential legislation that was long overdue” and using the hashtags #WeSaidEnough and #TimesUp.
Signed, sealed and delivered to @JerryBrownGov. Proud to have worked with @asmMelendez as she persisted on this essential legislation that was long overdue. Persistence has prevailed! #WeSaidEnough#TimesUp #Ab403pic.twitter.com/ot9AMeNtzg— Cristina Garcia (@AsmGarcia) February 5, 2018
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