An investigation of Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia is being reopened after a former legislative staffer appealed an earlier finding that failed to back up his claim that the Bell Gardens Democrat sexually harassed him, it was reported Thursday.
Assembly officials announced May 17 that Daniel Fierro’s allegation that Garcia drunkenly groped him at an Assembly softball game in Sacramento in 2014 ”could not be substantiated” but that Garcia was being removed from committee assignments for using “vulgar language.”
Two weeks later, Fierro appealed the finding, saying potentially key witnesses weren’t interviewed, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.
Garcia’s office confirmed Wednesday that she had learned of the renewed investigation, but she complained that the news media heard about it before she did, according to the newspaper.
“After a four-month process, the original ruling by the independent investigator found that the claims against me were unsubstantiated, which was accurate,” Garcia said in a statement quoted by the Daily News. “I have constantly asked that the independent investigatory process remain independent from politicization. In that regard, it is unacceptable that the letter updating parties was leaked to the news media before it was received by my legal counsel.”
Garcia, who had been considered a leader of the #MeToo movement in California government, took a voluntary leave of absence from February to May during the Assembly Rules Committee’s original investigation.
She’s running for election to a fourth term representing the 58th Assembly District. She led June 5 primary voting with a tepid 28.6 percent to advance to the Nov. 6 general election against Mike Simpfenderfer, who received 26.7 percent. Simpfenderfer was the only Republican among eight candidates in a district where Democratic registered voters outnumber Republicans by a ratio of 3 to 1.