Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia is expected to come to work this week after being sidelined in the Legislature for more than 100 days.
An Assembly investigation recently cleared the Bell Gardens Democrat of an allegation that she groped a former legislative employee. But the findings weren't enough for the State Building & Construction Trades Council of California to end its campaign to oust Garcia from office.
Women construction workers, wearing T-shirts with "there is no safe space for hate" printed across their chests and "#TimesUp" on their backs, walked the halls of the Capitol on Monday calling for her resignation.
"Racist, sexist, anti-gay, Cristina Garcia go away," dozens of women chanted outside Garcia's office.
They spun a bottle over a sign placed on the ground at her door. Garcia was accused of urging her staff members to play spin-the-bottle – a claim the Assembly investigation did not appear to support.
"This is a reminder that no matter where the bottle lands the answer is always no," said Gretchen Newsom, the political director for IBEW Local 569 in San Diego and Imperial Counties.
Garcia has not worked at the Capitol since she took an unpaid voluntary leave of absence in February in light of the sexual assault and harassment allegations. She is not required to stay away from the Legislature and requested to be excused from the Assembly session on Monday for "personal business," according to her office. Garcia could return to the floor as early as Friday, the next scheduled floor session.
Some of the construction workers protesting Garcia said she's unfit for public office because of anti-Asian comments she allegedly made in 2014 and admitted to using the word "homo."
Others were upset that Garcia pushed legislation to cap local air pollutants, which they said hurt refinery workers, even though the union had supported her prior campaigns. The California Labor Federation gave Garcia a perfect legislative scorecard on union issues last year.
A few women who said they lived in Garcia's district were allowed to voice their concerns to staff members in her office.
Working Californians Against Corruption, the committee formed by the building trades council, has raised over $500,000 to oppose Garcia's re-election. Charter schools joined in and gave more than $12,000 to the effort last week.
The campaign caused a rift between Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and the building trades, a key ally for Democrats on the gas tax increase last year. The council is the second major lobbying group in the state to publicly quarrel with Rendon. The speaker and the California Nurses Association threw down over single-payer health care legislation last year.
Welcome to the AM Alert, your morning rundown on California policy and politics. To receive it regularly, please sign up here.
CAMPAIGN VIOLATION? Dave Jones filed a complaint against the attorney general with the Attorney General's Office on Monday. California's insurance commissioner is accusing Xavier Becerra of using public resources for a campaign activity and requested a special counsel to investigate. Jones, who is challenging Becerra for AG, said Becerra violated state law by shooting an ad in the Stanley Mosk State Library and Courts Building in Sacramento. Becerra's lawyer, Stephen J. Kaufman, rejected "the baseless claims of the Jones campaign." Kaufman said Becerra's team obtained a permit from the California Film Commission and the law does not apply "where a candidate uses a public forum that is available to anyone else on the same terms."