SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Lawmakers passed a last-minute resolution Thursday, ordering a state senator to stay on leave for at least two more months as he’s investigated for sexual harassment.
State Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) was supposed to return to work next week-after agreeing to take a month-long leave of absence, but Democratic senators say they don’t want to see him back until his harassment investigation is completed.
“Yes hashtag, we do hear you,” said Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon.
And in the name of the #MeToo movement, de Leon led a vote to extend Mendoza’s paid leave, to be fair to women in the building, he said.
“That every female staffer whether they work in the pro tem’s office –on this floor for a Republican member, for a Democratic member—will not fear a sense of retribution for their position,” he said.
But victims’ rights advocates –still frustrated by Mendoza’s appearances at the capitol despite his “time off,” are calling on senate democrats to suspend the senator, without pay.
And Republicans are joining the fight.
“Kick these people out of office,” said Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Ose.
He’s fired up.
“I don’t know why the taxpayers should be paying this guy to stay in office. That’s just a travesty. We’re not only paying him; we’re paying his health insurance, his per diem, his retirement,” he said.
“I think when someone is accused of something they have not been found guilty of anything so when you have an absence or leave of absence it should be paid. And when you don’t pay someone, you’re being punitive,” said state Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo).
Mendoza believes he’s being punished regardless.
He had a letter delivered to the Senate just before the vote, demanding senators take responsibility for the “dearth of leadership” that’s led to what he calls his unfair treatment.