The California Senate, its process for addressing complaints against lawmakers under fire, announced Sunday that an outside legal firm will handle all investigations of sexual harassment in the house going forward, shifting some control away from a committee of senators who previously controlled the process.
The Senate Rules Committee said the changes were announced in light of allegations against Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, by two former female employees, which were first reported by The Sacramento Bee. One of the incidents, involving a 23-year-old Sacramento State fellow working in his Capitol office this year, raised questions about the way the Senate Rules Committee responded to allegations about Mendoza’s behavior.
The Senate will ask anyone coming forward to direct all sexual abuse, assault or harassment allegations and complaints to an outside law firm, according to the pro tem’s office. The outside firm “will investigate any and all allegations and make findings and recommendations to resolve and, where appropriate, discipline,” essentially replacing the prior role of the Senate Rules Committee in the investigation process.