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Besides Hollywood (Harvey Weinstein), Congress (Al Franken), and the media (Matt Lauer), to name only a few, it turns out that sexual abuse has been thriving in the California legislature. Capitol staffer Elise Flynn Gyore charged that assemblyman Raul Bocanegra groped her at a public event in 2009. Faced with this and other accusations, Bocanegra has now resigned his assembly seat.
On the senate side, Tony Mendoza fired three staffers after complaints about his behavior. Apparently, a full-time job with the Artesia Democrat required a woman to put in a brief session at Mendoza’s house in Sacramento. The senate duly stripped Mendoza of a committee chairmanship and appointments to two commissions. Senate boss Kevin de Leon now seeks to hire an independent legal firm to investigate sexual harassment. Legislators, staffers and taxpayers alike can be forgiven for believing that nothing will come of it.
As it turns out, De Leon was sharing a house with Mendoza when the alleged abuse took place and De Leon did nothing at the time. Only when the charges of abuse became public did de Leon vacate the premises. The senate boss is not on the panel he is appointing to select the law firm that will investigate sexual harassment. On the other hand, the senate boss was responsible for perhaps the worst public abuse of any legislator in California history.
Back in February, Leon’s chief of staff told senator Janet Nguyen to remain silent during a tribute to former state senator and New Left icon Tom Hayden, a champion of the Stalinist Vietnamese regime that drove many to flee. Nguyen, born in Ho Chi Minh City in 1976, spoke up anyway, first in Vietnamese then English. The Democrats cut off her microphone, told her to sit down and be quiet, and when Nguyen refused they had her carted off the senate floor. Senate bosses also cut off the feed from the California Channel, so viewers statewide would not hear an immigrant woman, born in a totalitarian state, speak the truth to power.
Kevin de Leon feigned outrage and said he would look into it, but nothing came of it and no senator was punished in any way. Californians should expect the same kind of show from the investigation of sexual harassment, whatever law firm de Leon’s panel selects for the job. Women might note that panel member Bill Monning played a major role in depriving Janet Nguyen of her right to free speech.