Why California’s Senate leader, Kevin de León, may now find it a bit harder to unseat US Senator Dianne Feinstein.
While the American press is fixated on the Alabama sexual harassment allegation controversy involving Judge Roy Moore, there is a similar storm brewing on the Left Coast involving leading Democrats in our state legislature.
Legal Insurrection readers may recall my descriptions of Kevin de León, President Pro Tempore of the California Senate and one of our Generals in the War against President Trump. He is planning to run against current Senator Dianne Feinstein in the 2018 election season based on his progressive, anti-Trump credentials.
Our fans may also recall that California’s state Capitol was hit with bevy of sexual harassment allegations that include a wide range of behaviors that targeted female interns, lawyers, lobbyists and colleagues.
There is indication that this particular storm may hit de León soon, which may complicate his plans to become the next US Senator from California.
The controversy surrounding sexual harassment in the state Capitol deepened on Friday and threatened to ensnare one of the Legislature’s leading Democrats, Kevin de León, as questions swirled over when the Senate leader became aware of complaints against his weekday roommate.
The plot thickened after a lawyer for a fired Senate staffer told Capital Public Radio that her client and two other employees were handed termination letters in the same meeting in which they detailed inappropriate behavior by their boss, Sen. Tony Mendoza, toward a young female intern.
The attorney’s account contradicted the timeline provided Thursday by De León’s office, raising questions about what the Senate leader, who is challenging U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, knew about the harassment allegations.
Mendoza, 46, repeatedly invited the 23-year-old woman to visit him at night at the Sacramento apartment he shared with De León and once invited her to spend the night at his hotel room at a Yolo County resort, according to Micha Star Liberty, an Oakland attorney for one of the fired staffers.
California colleague Katy Grimes reports that the two senators were no longer roommates.
“Over the weekend, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León moved out of a Sacramento apartment he shared with Sen. Tony Mendoza on Saturday, the same day the Sacramento Bee published a story in which a former female intern publicly accused Mendoza of inappropriate behavior toward her when she was 19,” the San Jose Mercury News reported. Yet de Leon claims he never knew about the sexual harassment allegations, despite being roommates with one of the Legislature’s alleged harassers.
To further protect
his burgeoning political career female staffers, lobbyists, and politicos, de León has helped to arrange a new policy that investigations into sexual harassment claims now be done by outside attorneys.
In a break with its long-standing practices that signals growing pressure to forcefully address sexual harassment allegations at the state Capitol, the California Senate will soon take steps to hire outside attorneys for any abuse investigation involving either staff or lawmakers.
“The people who work here and the public we serve must have complete confidence that no public official is above the law or our strict zero-tolerance harassment policies,” Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) said in a statement Sunday. “Those who violate these policies will be held to account — swiftly and justly.”
…Last week, both houses of the Legislature denied public access to some of the data covering abuse allegations made over the last decade. Information that was released in response to The Times’ formal request left unclear how many actual complaints were made in each house, focusing instead only on those that triggered formal investigations. Officials also have not revealed the cost of the investigations carried out over the last decade, or the money spent to hire attorneys who drafted harassment settlements.
I could not obtain any response from Feinstein in this particular issue, but I noted that she tweeted this today:
BREAKING: The Senate just passed our bill to prevent sex abuse in amateur athletics. This wouldn’t have been possible without the courage of women who came forward to say ‘ENOUGH is ENOUGH.’ Today is their day.
— Sen Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) November 14, 2017
Feinstein led that particular effort.
I surmise our current Senator is feeling good about her chances for re-election right about now.