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California #MeToo advocate hit with new claims of misconduct

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The allegations against Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia marked a stunning twist to the California Legislature's widening sexual-harassment scandal. Share story By KATHLEEN RONAYNE The Associated Press SACRAMENTO, Calif(AP) — A California lawmaker suspended amid a sexual misconduct investigation sued the state Senate on Thursday, seeking reinstatement and arguing he’s been unfairly treated by his colleagues. The lawsuit by Democratic SenTony Mendoza of Artesia marked yet another twist in the California Legislature’s increasingly dramatic sexual harassment scandalMendoza, who is Latino, argued for the first time that race is playing a role in his treatment, noting SenBob Hertzberg, who is white, has not been asked to step aside despite allegations he inappropriately hugged peopleHertzberg did not comment. Mendoza has been accused of acting inappropriately toward three young women who worked for him dating back to 2008The allegations include inviting a young woman to his home and offering another alcohol when she was underage. One of his former staff members, Adriana Ruelas, filed a discrimination complaint with the state alleging she was fired last year for complaining about Mendoza’s behavior toward one of the women. Most Read StoriesWith work permits in limbo, spouses of H-1B visa holders worry they’ll lose jobsSeattle police fatally shoot man near Ravenna ParkKing County Republican chair criticized after telling gun-control advocate 'Do not ever contact me again'Man who accused Ed Murray of sexual abuse found dead in Auburn motel  WATCHCrashes involving 25 vehicles shut down snow-slicked I-90Sale! Save up to 90% on subscriptions!Mendoza has denied retaliation or behaving inappropriately and said in the lawsuit that no one has accused him of “any inappropriate bodily contact, propositions or threats.” Mendoza is being investigated by an outside lawfirm hired by the Senate, but alleges in the suit he’s never been told what formal complaints were filedThe Senate Rules Committee suspended him in late January — days before he was set to return from a voluntary leave of absence — because the investigation had not yet concluded. Mendoza’s lawsuit alleges the suspension was unconstitutional because it deprived him of due process and his constituents of representation in SacramentoHe says he has never been told the full scope of the investigation and is being used as a scapegoat while other lawmakers facing misconduct accusations skate byThe California Constitution requires a two-thirds vote to suspend a member, but the chamber voted last month to give the five-member Rules Committee the power to extend Mendoza’s leave of absence. “It is an unconstitutional sleight-of-hand where attacks on one senator are used to hide other more serious allegations and offenders from public view,” the lawsuit alleges. Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, a Democrat and a former housemate of Mendoza, did not comment. Mendoza is the only lawmaker who has been suspended since allegations of sexual misconduct at the Capitol broke open last fallTwo assemblymen voluntarily resigned, and their seats haven’t been filledDemocratic Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia took a voluntary leave of absence last Friday. Hertzberg is also facing an investigation into allegations he made at least three female colleagues uncomfortable with hugs that were too friendlyDocuments released by the Legislature on Feb2 also show he was formally investigated in 2015 when a staff member complained he began dancing with her in his office, making her uncomfortable. Mendoza’s suit also accused colleagues of making up their minds about his case before an investigation concludedHe specifically singled out de Leon and Democratic SenConnie Leyva of Chino, both members of the Senate Rules Committee. “The statements made by members of the Rules Committee to the media — and not on the Senate floor — indicate that the tribunal wielding the authority of the de facto suspension was already biased against him,” the suit alleges. Roger Bagne, one of Mendoza’s constituents, is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit. News of Mendoza’s lawsuit came just hours after a legislative panel met about revamping policies involving sexual misconductThe public’s right to know if their lawmakers have engaged in sexual misconduct was the chief topic of discussion. “The public pays our salary, the public pays the settlements, the public has the absolute right to know what it is we’re doing,” said Democratic Assemblywoman Eloise Gomez Reyes of Grand Terrace. KATHLEEN RONAYNE Next StoryHampton files lawsuit against state over beach costs Previous StoryVermont college provides free laptops to next freshmen class // PROD-1622 Outbrain AB Test // Have to disable outbrain from running at this point based on optimizely test booleans (function() { if ( SEATIMESCO.hasOwnProperty('outbrain') && SEATIMESCO.outbrain.hasOwnProperty('enabled') && SEATIMESCO.outbrain.enabled === false ) { var outbrain = null; outbrain = document.querySelector('.OUTBRAIN[data-widget-id="AR_6"]'); if (outbrain !== null ) { outbrain.parentNode.removeChild(outbrain); } } })(); Contact Newsroom staff list FAQ Contact form About the company Seattle Restaurant Week Newspapers in Education Fund for the Needy Employment Historical Archives Pulitzers Company information Permissions Seattle Times Store Advertise Classifieds Autos Homes Obituary Jobs Media Kit Advertise with Us Subscriber Services Subscribe Activate Account Manage Subscription Place Temporary Hold Report Delivery Issue Make a Payment Print Replica Today’s Front Page Facebook Twitter RSS Feeds Newsletters Mobile Apps Subscribe

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