California Legislature Investigates Senator’s Behavior With Female Staffer

SACRAMENTO (AP) — The California Legislature says it has investigated 14 complaints of sexual harassment dating back to 2012.

The numbers were provided Thursday in response to a records request by The Associated Press.

Both chambers are not disclosing how many of those investigations resulted in disciplinary action.

The records show six of those investigations were in the Senate while eight were in the Assembly.

Both chambers say those numbers include one investigation each this year. It’s unclear if the Senate tally includes the current investigation into Democratic Sen. Tony Mendoza.

The Los Angeles Times reports the total number of investigations since 2006 is 31.

A Senate spokesman says Mendoza has been the target of an internal investigation for six weeks.

The Los Angeles-area state senator is facing an internal investigation over allegations of inappropriate behavior toward a young female employee, including inviting her to his home, Senate Secretary Danny Alvarez confirmed Thursday.

“These allegations are being rigorously reviewed and investigated consistent with our legal process, employment standards and privacy protections,” Alvarez said.

Allegations that Mendoza invited the female employee to his home in Sacramento were first reported by the Sacramento Bee Thursday.

Mendoza shares an apartment with Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon. A spokesman for de Leon says the leader was unaware of the alleged invitation.

The young woman, who was not identified, was working at the Capitol through a Senate fellows program run in partnership with California State University-Sacramento.

Spokesman Brian Blomster says the university is also investigating.

Mendoza said in a statement he would never knowingly abuse his authority “nor intentionally put an employee into an awkward or uncomfortable position.”

His statement did not confirm or deny if he invited the young employee to his home. He did not know a complaint was made against him until a Bee reporter called him, he said.

“It was completely news to me,” he said in an emailed statement.

The allegations against Mendoza make him the latest California lawmaker in the spotlight since roughly 150 women who work in and around the Capitol wrote an open letter calling out a pervasive culture of sexual harassment.

Most women who signed the letter have declined to provide names of male lawmakers, staff members and lobbyists they said have engaged in sexual harassment.

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