Capitol Alert

Former chief of staff to Sen. Leland Yee sexually harassed, touched woman, investigation finds

Sexual harassment cases at the California Capitol

Two lawmakers have resigned and one is on leave at the California Capitol over allegations of improper conduct toward women at the California Capitol. At least one other is under investigation, while the Legislature decides what the next steps are.
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Two lawmakers have resigned and one is on leave at the California Capitol over allegations of improper conduct toward women at the California Capitol. At least one other is under investigation, while the Legislature decides what the next steps are.

Adam Keigwin, who served as chief of staff to former state Sen. Leland Yee, allegedly sexually harassed and touched a former colleague and subordinate between 2013 and 2014, according to a Senate investigation released Thursday.

An unidentified woman who worked in the Senate with Keigwin at the time made the allegations. She said Keigwin, now a managing director at Mercury Public Affairs in Sacramento, sexually harassed her, according to the investigation. His behavior happened on numerous occasions when he was drunk or had been drinking, investigators found.

A “preponderance of the evidence” supports the Senate’s finding that Keigwin "engaged in sexually inappropriate conduct during the time that he worked in the Senate, including unwanted touching, exposing himself and engaging in sexually explicit talk," the investigation found. "The evidence supported a finding that this behavior occurred at social events that involved drinking when Keigwin had become inebriated."

Keigwin and the woman first met when she was in college, and interned in the Senate, the report said.

The "unwanted sexual touching" happened "at least" once or twice, and he allegedly exposed himself to the woman "once or twice at social events when he'd been drinking," the Senate investigation concluded. It also said he engaged in unwanted sexual conversations when the two worked in the Senate, though "it was likely that some of the sexual conversations were not unwanted," investigators said.

Keigwin did not immediately return calls for comment, but in a text message he denied the Senate findings.

"These allegations are absolutely untrue," Keigwin said. "They are contrary to and against everything I stand for and have spent my entire career fighting for and I will vigorously defend myself against them."

Keigwin said he "100 %" supports the movement to bring greater awareness to fight sexual harassment.

"As the father of two daughters, there is nothing more important to me than ensuring they grow up as strong women and live in a world where they can reach their ultimate potential," Keigwin said in the text. "Long before the 'We said enough' campaign, I had said 'enough.'"

Micha Star Liberty, the attorney for the woman who made the complaint, pushed back.

"While a denial of the Senate's findings is expected, it is the height of arrogance and sexism for this particular man to suggest that he was 'We said enough' before the brave women (of) Sacramento penned that poignant and compelling letter," she said in an email.

Yee pleaded guilty in 2015 to felony racketeering and is currently serving a five-year sentence in federal prison. He admitted to trading political favors for campaign contributions, including offering to facilitate a multimillion-dollar arms deal for shoulder-fired missiles and automatic weapons with a source tied to Muslim rebel groups in the Philippines.

The former lawmaker was one of more than two dozen people arrested in 2014 as part of a sweeping federal investigation into a Bay Area organized crime ring run by Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, a longtime associate. Yee was suspended with pay by the Senate and served out the remaining months of his final term in exile.

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