Capitol Alert

Legal experts to brief sexual harassment panel at California Capitol

Ann Ravel, an elections expert who resigned from the Federal Election Commission last year citing partisan gridlock and dysfunction in the agency, will testify today at the Legislature’s joint committee on sexual harassment prevention.

Ravel, a Democrat who also formerly served as chairwoman of California’s Fair Political Practices Commission, was invited for her expertise on proper enforcement of government rules.

Now a lecturer at UC Berkeley’s School of Law, Ravel’s resignation letter addressed to President Donald Trump last March provides insight into perspective she could bring to the sexual harassment hearings in the Capitol.

“Commissioners who will carry out the mandates of the law should be appointed,” she said of the Federal Election Commission, earlier criticizing the agency’s Republican bloc for ignoring violations and more broadly, for failing to enforce campaign finance laws.

She was criticized by some at the time for not understanding the role of the agency.

Her testimony will guide the California Legislature as it drafts new policies and procedures governing how they investigate sexual harassment claims and protect employees who bring forward complaints.

Additional hearings are planned this spring.

“Over the next month, we’ll be holding frequent hearings because the task before us is both urgent, and in need of thorough examination,” said Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Glendale, who chairs the joint Senate-Assembly panel. “Our goal is to provide ... the information we need to craft solutions that are both innovative and durable. This is our chance to establish an effective new model and we’re determined to get it right.”

Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, said in a statement that the work underway is part of a long-term effort to change the culture at the Capitol, and ensure the safety of lawmakers, lobbyists and others.

Speakers also include Andrea Johnson of the National Women’s Law Center and other legal experts who can recommend whether changes should be made to how lawmakers define sexual harassment.

The hearing begins at 9:30 a.m. in Room 4203 of the Capitol.

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MUST READ: Women are looking to take the seats of lawmakers accused of sexual harassment.

INFRASTRUCTURE DEBATE: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is one of five Democratic mayors from across the U.S. expected to discuss Trump’s infrastructure plan that actually includes $200 billion in federal spending.

Garcetti, often floated as a potential presidential contender in 2020, criticized the president’s proposal as short-sighted.

“Any federal plan must expand real dollars, and not increase the burden on local government to pick up the slack when Washington won’t lead,” said Garcetti, also chairman of the infrastructure task force for the U.S. Conference of Mayors. “I will be advocating on Capitol Hill for a real plan, with real results, and a fair share from the federal government. They can’t count on our dollars if they aren’t matching them.”

The discussion is not open to the public. Other mayors participating are Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto.

CELEBRATE: Happy birthday to Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, who turns 50 on Saturday. Also happy birthday to Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, who turns 70 on Sunday, to Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, who turns 54, and to state Sen. Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, who turns 63, also on Sunday.