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SR-69 (2017-2018)

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SR69:v99#DOCUMENT


CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Resolution No. 69


Introduced by Senator Vidak

January 03, 2018


Relative to the expulsion of Senator Tony Mendoza.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SR 69, as introduced, Vidak.

WHEREAS, On November 10, 2017, reports began appearing in the media about three former female staff members of Senator Tony Mendoza who complained about him sexually harassing them; and
WHEREAS, One woman, Jennifer Kwart, was 19 years of age in 2008 when she worked as an intern in then-Assembly Member Mendoza’s Norwalk District Office; and
WHEREAS, Ms. Kwart reported that in 2008, then-Assembly Member Mendoza arranged for her to fly to San Jose during the 2008 California Democratic Convention, picked her up from the airport, and took her to a hotel suite, where, at his suggestion, they had drinks from the minibar; and
WHEREAS, The Sacramento Bee has reported that then-Assembly Member Mendoza’s campaign finance reports from 2008 verify charges of $409 and $703.20 at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose for candidate travel, lodging, or meals and a $134.50 payment to Southwest Airlines for spouse or staff travel, lodging, or meals; and
WHEREAS, Ms. Kwart reported that in the hotel room then-Assembly Member Mendoza began asking her personal questions about her ex-boyfriends and her taste in men; and
WHEREAS, Ms. Kwart reported that she believed that then-Assembly Member Mendoza implied that he wanted to have sex with her; and
WHEREAS, Ms. Kwart reported, “Then and now, I feel like I was very trapped. I was in a place that I had never been to before. I didn’t have a car and I didn’t have a way out”; and
WHEREAS, Ms. Kwart reported that she pretended to receive a telephone call in order to excuse herself. She secretly called her mother and asked her to book a flight home for her immediately. She told then-Assembly Member Mendoza that her grandfather had suffered a stroke and that she needed to return to Los Angeles; and
WHEREAS, The Sacramento Bee has reported that Ms. Kwart’s mother recalls advising her daughter on how to safely navigate the situation via texts and phone calls; and
WHEREAS, A second woman, Haley Myers, who worked for then-Assembly Member Mendoza in 2010, reported that then-Assembly Member Mendoza repeatedly sent her text messages, some late at night, with comments such as “thinking of you” and ending with a smiley face. He singled out Ms. Myers, who was then 30 years of age and married, to attend after-hours events with him, including several occasions in which she found herself alone with Mr. Mendoza over drinks or dinner; and
WHEREAS, The Sacramento Bee has reported that, in September 2010, then-Assembly Member Mendoza invited Ms. Myers to join him for a long weekend at a conference in Pebble Beach. Ms. Myers was suspicious and asked for details about the work that would be expected from her on the trip. In response, then-Assembly Member Mendoza said that the accommodations were nice and described the resort town as beautiful. Ms. Myers declined the invitation and mentioned that she and her husband were celebrating their anniversary; and
WHEREAS, Ms. Myers reported then-Assembly Member Mendoza’s behavior to Rene Bayardo, his Legislative Director, who then reported the matter to the Assembly Committee on Rules; and
WHEREAS, Mr. Bayardo stated to the Sacramento Bee, “The behavior Haley described to me was alarming, and as a supervisor I had a legal and ethical obligation to report it”; and
WHEREAS, An Assembly Committee on Rules staff member agreed to tell then-Assembly Member Mendoza not to contact Ms. Myers in a non-professional manner and not to retaliate against either Ms. Myers or Mr. Bayardo; and
WHEREAS, An Assembly Committee on Rules staff member followed up with Ms. Myers afterward, who reported that then-Assembly Member Mendoza was “perplexed and confused”; and
WHEREAS, A third woman, a 23-year-old Senate Fellow assigned to Senator Mendoza’s capitol office, was, during the summer of 2017, repeatedly invited by Senator Mendoza to visit him at night in a home he then shared with Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León, on the pretext of reviewing her résumé; and
WHEREAS, Two Senate staff members who reported Senator Mendoza’s inappropriate behavior to the Senate Committee on Rules were recently fired; and
WHEREAS, The director of the California Senate Fellows program at the time who allegedly did not report Senator Mendoza’s behavior has been put on “indefinite leave” by Sacramento State University; and
WHEREAS, Senator Mendoza’s responses and statements about the reports of the three women have been vague nondenials attempting to place blame on so-called misunderstandings, miscommunications, and the media seeking to generate advertising sales; and
WHEREAS, When a Sacramento Bee reporter asked Senator Mendoza whether he told a Senate Fellow assigned to his office that she could come back to his house to go over her résumé, Senator Mendoza responded, “Generally speaking, I would offer assistance to any of our employees seeking higher-ranking positions in ours or other offices”; and
WHEREAS, Senator Mendoza has clearly violated at least 10 of the Senate Standards of Conduct, which read as follows:
“First—Each Senator shall conduct himself or herself so as to justify the high trust reposed in him or her by the people and to promote public confidence in the integrity of the Senate.
“Second—A Senator or officer or employee of the Senate shall not engage in unethical conduct or tolerate such conduct by others. ...
“Third—... A Senator shall not use the prestige of his or her office, and an officer or employee of the Senate shall not use the status of his or her position, for material or financial gain or private benefit.
“Fourth—... Each Senator shall fairly characterize the issues confronting the Legislature and accurately inform the public regarding the conduct of his or her office.
“Fifth—Each Senator and each officer or employee of the Senate has an obligation to the public and to his or her colleagues to be informed about, and abide by, the rules that govern the proceedings of the Senate and the Legislature. ...
“Sixth—Each Senator, and each officer or employee of the Senate, acting in a position of leadership shall exercise his or her power and carry out his or her responsibility so as to enhance reasoned and visible decision-making by the Senate.
“Seventh—Each Senator has an obligation to treat each officer or employee of the Senate with fairness and without discrimination, and to ensure that each officer or employee performs only those tasks for which there is a legislative or governmental purpose.
“Eighth—Each officer or employee of the Senate has an obligation to perform his or her properly assigned duties using his or her best judgment with diligence and a duty of loyalty to the Senate as an institution. ...
“Tenth—Each Senator and each officer or employee of the Senate shall uphold the Constitution of California and the Constitution of the United States, and shall adhere to the spirit and the letter of the laws, rules, and regulations governing officeholder conduct.
“Eleventh—Each Senator and each officer or employee of the Senate shall conduct himself or herself in the performance of his or her duties in a manner that does not discredit the Senate”; and
WHEREAS, Serving in the California Legislature is not a right, but rather a privilege and an honor entrusted to us by the voters of California; and
WHEREAS, Senator Mendoza has violated that trust by repeatedly using his office in both houses of the Legislature to target and prey upon women working for him; and
WHEREAS, Women working in, volunteering in, or visiting the capitol and district offices of California legislators have a right to feel safe and a right to have protections against retaliation if they have concerns or complaints about their treatment; and
WHEREAS, Senator Mendoza has demonstrated through his actions that he does not comprehend the serious predicament he has placed his accusers in, and the damage he has done to them and to the reputation of the Legislature; and
WHEREAS, Senator Mendoza has compromised his ability to provide effective representation for the residents of the 32nd Senate District; and
WHEREAS, The Assembly Chair of the California Legislative Women's Caucus has stated she will no longer work with Senator Mendoza; and
WHEREAS, As stated in Section 3 of Article XX of the California Constitution, the oath of office that California State Senators swear to uphold upon taking office reads as follows: “I, ______, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties upon which I am about to enter”; and
WHEREAS, Paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 5 of Article IV of the California Constitution provides as follows: “Each house of the Legislature shall judge the qualifications and elections of its Members and, by rollcall vote entered in the journal, two-thirds of the membership concurring, may expel a Member”; and
WHEREAS, The California State Senate convenes in a chamber under a portrait of George Washington, a symbol of dedication and integrity; and
WHEREAS, Senator Mendoza has had, since November 10, 2017, the option of resigning from the Senate but has not done so; and
WHEREAS, The Senate leadership has had, since November 10, 2017, the option of requesting Senator Mendoza to resign from the Senate but has not done so; and
WHEREAS, Under the power and authority conferred by the California Constitution, the Senate can, by a two-thirds vote of the membership, expel a Senator; now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate of the State of California, two-thirds of the membership concurring, That pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 5 of Article IV of the California Constitution, Senator Tony Mendoza, representing the 32nd Senate District, is hereby expelled from the California State Senate for violating the Senate Standards of Conduct cited above, effective immediately.