Ha­rass­ment case puts U.S. Se­nate can­di­date un­der spot­light

Porterville Recorder - - FRONT PAGE - By KATH­LEEN RONAYNE

SACRA­MENTO — News that a sit­ting Cal­i­for­nia se­na­tor is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated for sex­ual ha­rass­ment against a young fe­male em­ployee has put a fresh spot­light on a leg­isla­tive leader this week as he be­gins a bid against the state’s first fe­male U.S. se­na­tor.

Se­nate Pres­i­dent Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, the Demo­cratic leader of the state Se­nate, heads the com­mit­tee in charge of hu­man re­sources em­ploy­ees who han­dle work­place com­plaints. De Leon also rents a room in the Sacra­mento home of Demo­cratic Sen. Tony Men­doza, the man ac­cused of im­proper con­duct, de Leon spokesman An­thony Reyes said.

Men­doza is ac­cused of re­peat­edly invit­ing a young woman who worked in his of­fice through a fel­low­ship pro­gram to the house, al­though she never went. Men­doza said in a state­ment that he would never know­ingly abuse his au­thor­ity, though his state­ment didn’t ad­dress the al­le­ga­tion that he in­vited her to his home.

Late Satur­day, the Sacra­mento Bee re­ported that a sec­ond young woman has ac­cused Men­doza of be­hav­ing in­ap­pro­pri­ately to­ward her when she was a 19-yearold in­tern in his dis­trict of­fice in 2008. A spokesman for Men­doza said the woman’s al­le­ga­tions were “com­pletely false,” the Bee re­ported.

The woman, now 28, came for­ward with her al­le­ga­tions af­ter me­dia re­ports this week of the Se­nate in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Men­doza’s re­ported be­hav­ior to­ward the first woman, ac­cord­ing to the Bee.

De Leon said through spokes­men that he did not know about the com­plaint against Men­doza or his al­leged in­vi­ta­tions to the young woman. De Leon’s al­lies have down­played the two se­na­tors’ re­la­tion­ship.

But De Leon’s han­dling of im­pro­pri­ety at the Capi­tol will likely play a role in his U.S. Se­nate bid against Sen. Dianne Fe­in­stein, one of Cal­i­for­nia’s most prom­i­nent women in pol­i­tics and a pow­er­ful U.S. se­na­tor.

“It re­ally does feel like we’re at this in­flec­tion point with sex ha­rass­ment al­le­ga­tions where sud­denly they’re be­ing taken se­ri­ously,” said Kim Nalder, di­rec­tor of the Project for an In­formed Elec­torate at Cal­i­for­nia State Univer­sity-sacra­mento. “It’s hard to imag­ine that Kevin de Leon’s bid will be com­pletely un­tar­nished by this rev­e­la­tion that some­one close to him was ac­cused of this kind of mis­be­hav­ior.”

AP PHOTO BY RICH PE­DRON­CELLI

In this 2016 file photo, state Sen. Tony Men­doza, Darte­sia, lis­tens at the Capi­tol in Sacra­mento.

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