California Assembly members held a special hearing this week in what they called a first step to overhauling how the chamber handles claims of sexual misconduct and harassment.
In an almost five-hour subcommittee meeting — the first of its kind by either legislative house — staffers and lobbyists said procedures in the state Capitol have for years protected those in power, leaving victims in fear of retaliation.
The testimony also revealed that the chamber has an opaque process to report and investigate claims, no measures to track complaints and blurry ethics standards for elected officials.
At the hearing, lawmakers were unable to get a complete picture of the problem from the Rules Committee.
Witnesses said victims often felt unsafe coming forward, fearing retribution from powerful bosses.
Of those who did, the committee could not provide clear data on when, how often or against whom they had filed complaints.
But many details were not disclosed, including incident dates and information on the allegations, including which of them involved lawmakers or staff. Officials also did not provide information on how the cases were resolved.
The reality is, the Legislature isn’t ever going to come clean about all of this.