Assemblywoman faces new misconduct allegations.
SACRAMENTO (AP) — Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia was hit Wednesday with fresh allegations of misconduct in her office, including frequent discussions about sex and alcohol consumption at the Capitol. San Diego lawyer Dan Gilleon filed a formal complaint with the Legislature detailing the allegations on behalf of four anonymous former employees in Garcia’s office.
He said they will cooperate with an investigation but do not want their names to be public at this time for fear of retribution.
The complainants allege that Garcia regularly talked about her sexual activity, including with other members, in front of staff. They also allege Garcia drank alcohol while doing official Assembly business and pressured staff to join her in drinking at the office or at bars. The allegations came as Garcia is on a leave of absence following news she is being investigated in the groping of a former male legislative staff member in 2014.
None of the new complaints involve sexual misconduct, but Gilleon said the former employees considered Garcia’s frequent talk about sex a form sexual harassment.
“My clients will vigorously defend what they have said, but I will insist that the Assembly takes serious steps to ensure their protection against reprisal,” Gilleon said in a letter he delivered to the Assembly Rules Committee after a press conference on the Capitol steps.
Garcia, in a Facebook post, said she will address each of the issues individually once an investigation has been completed. But she said the claims don’t square with the atmosphere she worked to create. Her current and former chiefs of staff denied the behaviors described in the letter.
“I am confident I have consistently treated my staff fairly and respectfully. In a fast-paced legislative office, not everyone is the right fit for every position, and I do understand how a normal employment decision could be misinterpreted by the individual involved in that decision,” Garcia wrote. Garcia took a leave of absence Friday after news broke that Daniel Fierro, a former staffer in another office, alleged she rubbed his back, grabbed his buttocks and tried to grab his groin at a legislative softball game in 2014. She denies the claims.
The allegations against Garcia mark a stunning twist to the California Legislature’s widening sexual harassment scandal that first broke open last fall and prompted two male assemblymen to resign.
In this June 22, 2016 file photo, Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D- Bell Gardens, speaks at the Capitol in Sacramento.