California Sen. Joel Anderson more likely than not drunkenly threatened to “bitch slap” a female lobbyist, according to a Senate investigation released Tuesday.
The Senate sent a letter of reprimand to the Alpine Republican, but did not further punish Anderson, who termed out this session and is running for a seat on the state Board of Equalization.
“Your behavior was completely unacceptable,” Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, wrote to Anderson. “The Rules Committee instructs you to interact in a professional manner going forward.”
Stephanie Roberson, director of government relations for the California Nurses Association, filed a complaint last month after the altercation with Anderson during an evening fundraiser at The Diplomat Steakhouse, across the street from the Capitol. The nurses organization called on Anderson to resign and withdraw his candidacy for the state tax board.
Anderson, who was kicked out of the restaurant over the incident, said his words were misinterpreted. But the Senate reported that multiple witnesses heard him use some variation of the phrase “I oughta bitch slap you” to Roberson at least two times.
“We are pleased the Senate has vindicated our Director of Government Relations by holding Sen. Anderson accountable for his vile behavior,” Bonnie Castillo, executive director of the nurses association, said in a statement. “Hopefully this incident serves as another wake-up call on how much more still has to be done to end the all too routine sexual harassment and abuse that stains our politics and other areas of life.”
The Senate investigation also found that Anderson rubbed Roberson’s “shoulders for about ten seconds in a manner that was not invited and likely unwelcome.” It did not make a factual finding about allegations that Anderson, frustrated the nurses did not endorse him, called Roberson “beautiful, but stupid.”
“The investigation doesn’t substantiate all the wild claims reported in the press, and I stand by my original statement,” Anderson said in a statement.