Capitol Alert

Former head of Senate fellows program leaves Sacramento State after investigation

The moment Tony Mendoza is no longer in the photo gallery of senators

An official portrait of Sen. Tony Mendoza is removed from a display of active Senators in a hallway outside the Senate chambers on Thursday. Mendoza resigned from office just as his colleagues considered whether to expel him.
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An official portrait of Sen. Tony Mendoza is removed from a display of active Senators in a hallway outside the Senate chambers on Thursday. Mendoza resigned from office just as his colleagues considered whether to expel him.

The former director of Sacramento State's California Senate Fellows program, placed on “indefinite leave" in November after The Bee reported allegations that Sen. Tony Mendoza made unwanted advances on a 23-year-old Senate fellow, is no longer employed by the university.

The young female fellow told others that she spoke with David Pacheco, director of Senate Fellows program for more than a decade, about the situation and he advised her not to take any immediate action to leave the office.

Brian Blomster, a spokesman for Sacramento State, on Tuesday confirmed that Pacheco no longer works for the university, but declined to say whether he resigned or was fired. The university said last fall that it launched a formal investigation into the allegations.

Blomster said Pam Chueh, director of the Assembly Fellows Program, has been serving as interim director of the Senate Fellows Program. Kathy Dresslar, a former chief of staff to Darrell Steinberg when he was Senate leader, has been temporarily hired to help with the selection process for the next class of Senate fellows, Blomster said.

Blomster said a search for Pacheco's full-time replacement is ongoing.

Pacheco officially left his post on Feb. 20, the day the state Senate released a summary of an investigation into Mendoza's behavior that confirmed he likely made unwanted advances on six women, including four subordinates, over the last decade. Mendoza resigned days later. Pacheco declined to comment Tuesday.

The Senate investigation found that Mendoza likely invited "the fellow to come to his home under the guise of reviewing resumes of candidates for a full time legislative position for which she was an applicant, when he had little intention of hiring her for the position."

The probe also confirmed that Mendoza likely suggested she see a movie with him, go to dinner together with him, take vacation with him and rent a spare room in his house last year. The Senate said Mendoza also likely suggested they could have shared a room together on an overnight trip.

The Bee published allegations in November that the fellow told others Pacheco told her that Mendoza might need staff and she could be an option. He advised her to wait and see what happened, according to communications reviewed by The Bee.

Before the story published, Pacheco’s boss at Sacramento State’s Center for California Studies said Pacheco did not report any incidents to him, although university policy requires employees to report any allegation or act of harassment they become aware of.

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