Democrat Delaine Eastin, the most prominent woman running for California governor, issued a scathing rebuke of a Republican rival accused of sexual harassment, urging Assemblyman Travis Allen to suspend his campaign.
“I say #TimesUp for ALL sexual harassers seeking to subjugate half the population,” former state schools chief Eastin wrote in a statement Friday, using the hashtag for the legal defense fund that provides subsidized support to those who have experienced sexual harassment. Eastin referred to Allen as a “known predator” and said he should drop out of the race.
“If he remains invited to joint events, I will be there to represent all women who have been harassed, passed over and disrespected,” she said in response to a question from The Bee.
Allen’s name surfaced in the state Legislature’s unprecedented release on Friday of its sexual harassment investigative records. A legislative staff member more than five years ago complained that Allen made her feel uncomfortable by making a practice of being “unnecessarily close” to her. She described incidents in which he slid his foot over to touch hers, and an another incident in which he came up behind her in the cafeteria and squeezed her shoulders.
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Allen received a verbal warning but was not disciplined. He did not return a message seeking reaction to Eastin, but in a statement Friday, Allen called the investigative report an “unsubstantiated complaint” and criticized the release as a “political attack by a Democrat-led committee,” a charge the Assembly speaker’s office denied.
“I’m sure I’ve shaken many people’s hands, tapped many people on the shoulder, and have even tapped people's feet accidentally,” Allen said. “But there has never been anything in any of my actions that has been inappropriate, and nor will there ever be. I was actually shocked six years ago that any friendliness I displayed was in any way misconstrued. Everyone deserves to work in an environment free from inappropriate behavior.”
Reacting to the document release in a separate statement, Democrat John Chiang, another candidate for governor, did not name Allen but said any man who has abused his power “and sexually harassed others is unfit to serve: as a legislator, as a mayor, or as governor.”