ARTESIA — State Sen. Tony Mendoza has been stripped of his legislative leadership positions while an investigation continues into sexual harassment allegations.
The decision by the Senate Rules Committee came in response to the allegations of three women.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the committee suspended Mendoza, D-Artesia, as chairman of the Banking and Financial Institutions Committee and as a member of the state Commission for Economic Development and the California Workforce Development Fund.
“I welcome the Senate Rules Committee’s decision to seek outside counsel and establish a fair process to evaluate the charges against me,” Mendoza said. “I cannot comment as I am still restrained by the Senate’s directions to me to not comment or respond to allegations.
“I understand the Rules Committee’s decision to relieve me from the committee chairmanship as it removes any perception of bias during its investigation of the unsubstantiated allegations against me.”
The committee’s action came on the heels of critical comments earlier this month by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, who said he was “deeply troubled by the quantity and specificity” of the accusations, which he said should lead Mendoza to be “suspended from chairmanships, boards and commissions until the independent investigation into his conduct is complete.”
According to The Times, three former Mendoza employees claim they were fired after going to their supervisors with concerns about Mendoza’s behavior toward a 23-year-old fellow. One of the former employees contended that Mendoza invited the fellow to his house to work on her resume and invited her to stay with him at his hotel during a political event.
The Sacramento Bee reported that a 19-year-old intern came forward with allegations that Mendoza gave her alcohol in an Anaheim hotel room during a 2008 political convention. The paper also reported that a former aide accused Mendoza of sending her after-hours text messages and inviting her to private meals and a weekend political event in Pebble Beach, even though she was married.
The accusations against Mendoza came as Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, D-Pacoima, announced his resignation from the Assembly Nov. 27, effective immediately.
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, last week removed Bocanegra from his position as majority whip and stripped him of his committee assignments. He noted that an independent investigation was being conducted into allegations against Bocanegra, who would have been expelled from the Assembly if the probe affirmed the allegations.
Rendon said Bocanegra’s resignation “underscores the seriousness of the allegations against him.” He also pointed out that the Assembly will begin holding hearings as the body continues “working to change the climate in the Capitol to stop sexual harassment and abuse.”