Capitol Alert

Tony Mendoza’s day of reckoning may finally be here

Accused Sen. Tony Mendoza’s day of reckoning may be drawing closer.

Mendoza, a Democrat who last week sued the Senate amid an investigation into sexual harassment allegations by three former employees, is on paid leave pending the outcome of the probe. A panel of lawmakers also temporarily stripped him of his committee posts, including his chairmanship of the Insurance, Banking and Financial Institutions Committee.

Later today, the Senate Rules Committee will finalize its recommendation to the rest of the Senate on what to do about their colleague. Last week the five-member panel of lawmakers reviewed a report on the now-completed investigation. All senators are to receive the facts on Wednesday.

On Thursday, a day before Democrats gather in San Diego for their annual convention, the Senate could take action on Mendoza if the punishment is serious enough to require a floor vote. Possible repercussions for him include censure, suspension, expulsion, or no discipline at all.

Officials say Mendoza would be given the opportunity to tell his side of the story, a scenario that would draw considerable attention given the heightened tensions between the disgraced official and his colleagues, some of whom have grown impatient with him.

In the lawsuit Mendoza brought last week, Mendoza asserted that the Senate has treated him unfairly and violated his constitutional rights when the panel of lawmakers extended his voluntary leave of absence late last month.

The Bee’s Taryn Luna reported sexual harassment allegations against Mendoza last fall involving the three former employees over the last decade, prompting the Senate to hire an outside law firm to investigate Mendoza.

After Mendoza reluctantly agreed to a temporary leave of absence, with a return planned for no later than Feb. 1, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León asked the Senate to extend the paid leave of absence without the senator’s consent.

The Mendoza situation has unfolded against the backdrop of the #Metoo movement. Two assemblymen resigned their seats and Democratic Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, a vocal leader in the movement, took a voluntary leave of absence over allegations of improper behavior.

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ON OUR RADAR: Republican Lydia Ortega, a San Jose State University professor, joined the crowded race for lieutenant governor. In her announcement video, Ortega sought to draw attention to, what else, the #Metoo movement. Others in the race include Democrats Eleni Kounalakis, a former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary, Sen. Ed Hernandez and Jeff Bleich, an attorney and diplomat from San Francisco.

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NEWMAN’S REVENGE? Democratic Sen. Josh Newman, the subject of recall effort for his vote to help cement a gas tax hike to pay for road repairs, says he’s carrying SB 1394, which would bar paying signature gatherers on a per-signature basis.

ICYMI: Hours after two California legislators unveiled a plan to outlaw tackle football until high school, angry coaches, parents and former players began mobilizing to protect America’s favorite sport from a notoriously "nanny" state government. Here’s the story, from Luna.

WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE: The State Water Resources Control Board meets at 9:30 a.m. in the Cal/EPA Building to consider making permanent elements of Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2014 drought emergency order. This includes a monthly reporting requirement for urban water users.

BACK IN SAC: Rep. Adam Schiff, a former state senator who has become one of President Donald Trump’s chief tormentors as part of the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election, will “re”-meet the Capitol press corps at a sold-out lunch in Sacramento. The event is 11:45 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the State Building & Construction Trades Council, 1231 I St, Suite 302.

AND MORE SCHIFF: Later, at the Commonwealth Club, Schiff will sit down with former Rep. Ellen Tauscher. This event, which also is sold out, starts at 7 p.m., Marines’ Memorial Theatre, 609 Sutter St. San Francisco.

SKILLED LABOR GAP: Villaraigosa will address a lunch sponsored by Sacramento Regional Builders Exchange PAC noon at the Sutter Club.

ISSA’S OLD SEAT: Democrats competing for the seat of retiring Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, will participate in a forum at San Juan Hills High School. It starts at 7 p.m.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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