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.
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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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