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CORRECTIONS: The number for Antonio Villaraigosa in John Chiang's internal poll should have been 14%, not 17%, as reflected in the linked memo. I have also been offered the numbers for the other candidates. I'll add that to the table when I get it and include in the Nooner.
And, Sara Jacobs is a candidate in CA49, not CA48.
My apologies. My eyes were completely blurry after five hours of writing the harassment story.
Happy Friday! You made it! Another one of those weeks. At least we have something to keep the federal government open, even if many of us think it stinks. Federal employees get to work and services provided, but Dreamers were sold out by Paul Ryan and the Democrats in exchange for increased domestic spending.
Opening Ceremony is 5pm PST on NBC.
After I write each day, I jot down (type--when was the last time I used a pen) ideas, links, throughout the afternoon and evening for the next day. But, you rarely know in advance when a poll is going to drop or, now, when a sexual harassment story is going to break. It's really a game of What's Next? (just ordered this TWWW shirt). So Nooner appropriate. With all of this going on, it's a good thing I got a delivery of 5 pounds of "special dork" coffee from bicycle-powered Davis-roasted Pepper Peddler yesterday.
Well, our friend Carla Marinucci at Politico provided today's lead story, which has stirred up a political tornado around the Capitol. Of course, it happened when I was taking my post-writing walk around the pond at Southside Park to stare at the waterfowl to get away from politics for a little bit.
Let me start by thanking lots of past and present reporters from a variety of publications and our "resident" legislative historian Alex Vassar and others your past work that gave me information for today's main story. I linked to some, but had like 20 Chrome tabs open and didn't get everyone cited.
At 2pm, Marinucci posted a story that Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) is under investigation for a sexual harassment complaint reported to Assembly Rules by Assemblymember Ian Calderon about his former staffer, Daniel Fierro. While I sent out an alert with Marinucci's to Nooner Premium subscribers, I didn't want to write more before researching, talking to folks, and mulling over it.
As you can guess, this is an extraordinarily difficult issue to discuss and it's hard to provide a perspective of putting facts in context without one group or another off finding offense in your words. As of this morning, there are 8,502 active Nooner subscribers covering every demographic group and political leaning. Some of you are casual readers who don't personally know the players and others who interact when then daily.
Frequently, I'm writing or linking to negative stories about readers, which frankly sucks. These include friends and people I don't know.
Garcia is the chair of the Legislative Women's Caucus and as been arguably the most visible advocate from the electeds in the Legislature in the #metoo movement. Of course, she was not included in the special joint subcommittee looking into the issue, as only members (and alternates) of Assembly and Senate Rules were eligible as a subcommittee rather than a select committee. Clearly, that was a strategic decision by leadership in both houses to limit who would clamor for the high-profile role.
The Marinucci story brings up a rumored incident from 2014 in which Fierro alleges that Garcia grabbed his junk following the annual Assembly softball game. Marinucci writes "Fierro, who said Garcia appeared inebriated, said she began stroking his back, then squeezed his buttocks and attempted to touch his crotch before he extricated himself and quickly left."
Marinucci's also writes:
A prominent Sacramento lobbyist says she also accosted him in May 2017, when she cornered him, made a graphic sexual proposal, and tried to grab his crotch at a political fundraiser. He spoke to POLITICO on the condition of anonymity out of fear of reprisals.
It is not apparent that the latter unnamed allegation is being looked at by the Assembly Rules independent investigation as lobbyists don't have "standing" to file harassment complaints.
One can not ignore the players in this latest issue. There are two powerful political camps in the region on the southeast side of Los Angeles. One has been controlled by the Calderon family with patriarch Charles Calderon, who moved from the Assembly to the State Senate in 1990 succeeding Joseph Montoya, who spent five years in federal prison for extortion, money laundering, and racketeering following the FBI's "Shrimpscam" sting operation.
Calderon's brothers are Ronald Calderon and Tom Calderon. Ronald is wrapping up a term after agreeing to a plea of wire fraud following charges that, if proven, could have led to the equivalent of life in prison. He was sentenced to 42 months in federal prison that began January 2017, although with good behavior is scheduled to be released on 01/21/2019. Garcia has called on federal authorities to keep Ronald in prison for the entire 42 months.
Tom served prison time and was released on 04/12/2017 after pleading guilty of money laundering in the same case.
The successor of Ron Calderon is Tony Mendoza, who is currently on paid leave of absence as the highly publicized investigation of harassment allegations is completed, and was implicated in the "document dump" or harassment actions released by the Legislature on February 2. Garcia has been openly critical of Mendoza and called upon him to resign before the investigation is complete.
Mendoza had been seen as an ally of the Calderons, until he used his role as chair of the Latino Legislative Caucus to keep money from flowing to Tom Calderon's 2012 campaign for Assembly against his friend, Luis Marquez, reported the Bee. Mendoza acknowledged he didn't want Tom to return as Tony expected a challenge to him for State Senate. He was fined $57,000 by the FPPC.
Ian Calderon is the son of Charles and nephew of Ronald and Tom. He has set out for a new era of the family name and, to my knowledge, hasn't been caught up in allegations that troubled his uncles or the #metoo movement.
All this said and bringing it to today, the one public named accusation against Garcia is from a former legislative staffer of both Ian Calderon and former Assemblymember Roger Hernández, who had a colorful six year stint in the Assembly in the district neighboring Ian Calderon's and is seen as allied with the Calderon family. Hernández challenged Congresswoman Grace Napolitano in 2016, but dropped his campaign in August amidst domestic violence allegations (and a restraining order) by his ex-wife Baldwin Park councilmember Susan Rubio, who is now running for State Senate, and whose sister is in the State Assembly.
Let's just say the politics down there are very complicated.
The history of alleged bad behavior by politicians in the region continued yesterday, when Los Angeles district attorney investigators served search warrants on the mayor's house and business, others houses, and City Hall, reports the Times. Maywood is in Speaker Anthony Rendon's district adjacent to Garcia's. As a side note, investigators removed 40 roosters from Mayor Ramon Medina's auto shop. That's a helluva a lot of coq au vin.
The Times team reports:
At least seven locations were searched, according to witnesses and officials. They included City Hall; Medina's home and business; the home and business of Vice Mayor Ricardo Villarreal; the business of a city contractor, V&M Ironworks; and the home of a former city councilman, Sergio Calderon. [no relation]
In a text message response to The Times, Calderon declined to comment other than to say, "I'm very thankful to the officers involved for the courtesy they extended to my elderly mother."
A neighbor of the mayor's said she saw Medina and members of his family talking to police on their front lawn at 7:30 a.m.
There were rumors of handcuffs, but I have not found confirmations of that and the sheriff's office is referring to the DA's office, which is not responding.
Back to yesterday's revealed allegations. As I told Premium readers yesterday, there have been whispers and accusations about Garcia for awhile. I've heard them from supporters, opponents, and people generally neutral. That said, there are whispers about more than a dozen members that haven't been reported that I know about right now.
I don't write about whispers. It's dangerous. My ex-wife received an anonymous letter when we were married alleging that I was having an affair with my vice president. I'm far from perfect, but the allegation was categorically untrue.
It's too easy in this environment to destroy someone. The filing period for Garcia's re-election is exactly one month from today, and will be extended by five days if she doesn't run.
On Garcia's re-election, waiting in the wings for either a challenge to a damaged Garcia or an open seat may be Montebello mayor Vanessa Delgado, who has filed for Tony Mendoza's SD32. Delgado is reportedly friendly with the Calderons (she bought her house from Tom Calderon, although has said everything was handled by a real estate agent). Garcia has endorsed Rio Hondo trustee Vicky Santana for the seat.
I hope you're keeping a flow chart.
There is one issue in both of the allegations against Garcia and others, and that is alcohol. I write this as a person who has admittedly struggled with recovery as I have written in this space, and finally think I've got it, at least for each day, with a lot of support for many of you.
I hate to talk about it, as I know alcohol comes with politics and the legislative process. I don't preach to others and it's not a problem for the majority of people who drink. That said, it's pretty much a common denominator of the public and whispered allegations outside of Capitol offices (well, some in the offices), and that can't be ignored. All I can say is "be careful," both for the possibly accused and possible victims.
Yesterday, Legislative Women's Caucus vice-chair Connie Leyva (D-Ontario) called on Garcia to take an immediate leave of absence. This morning, Garcia took an immediate unpaid leave of absence, while saying "Upon reflection of the details, I am certain I did not engage in the behavior I am accused of. [h/t Ben Adler, CPR].
Of course, yesterday she stated "I can also say I have zero recollection of engaging in inappropriate behavior and such behavior is inconsistent with my values."
I have no knowledge of the veracity of the allegations against Garcia and others, and particularly whether alcohol was involved. What I will say is that during my years of alcohol abuse, I have many moments of zero recollection of inappropriate behavior later told to me by trusted friends.
For now, the investigation will proceed, Garcia will have time to think about her political future and her accomplishments to advance the issue are appreciated.
More after the jump.
POLL POSITION: I have wavered on whether or not to include poll results from a memo has been provided to me and other's by John Chiang's campaign in the table with the other polls in The Nooner yesterday. At this point I am not, although the campaign has been responsive on many of my questions. The reason I'm not including it in the table included yesterday is that we only have top line results from the top three Democrats and not Delaine Eastin or the three leading Republican candidates. Thus, it's just not fair to include in the table.
Here are the numbers for the top three and undecided:
They go on to give numbers after using arguments for each of the candidates, something I don't report. You can read the full memo from Chiang's campaign here.
I don't have a full poll and don't know how the candidates are described, and we know from yesterday's discussion that ballot label and advertising about a candidate's elective office experience is influential. I did get partial methodology: [n=400 LV with oversampling of non-Republicans and Asian-Americans, weighted down to likely voters, 01/27-02/01/18, live interview cell/home]
DOUBLE-X CONGRESSIONAL FACTOR: A "joint fundraising committee" has been created to raise money for four Southern California Democratic women running for Congress--Katie Hill (CA25), Dr. Mai-Khanh Tran (CA39), Katie Porter (CA45), and Sara Jacobs (CA49) (h/t @rpyers). The committee can collect contributions collectively for the four and disburse it to the candidates' individual committees.
Damn, I'm out of time. Talk to you tomorrow, because as usual, we'll ask, what's next?
There may be news this afternoon. If I see anything of significance, I'll tweet it @scottlay.
#CAKEDAY and classifieds after the jump.
#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Assemblymember Loanne Leavitt, Assemblymember Phil Ting, Juan Torres and Stephanie Williams!
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