Capitol Alert

Video: California senator calls new Mexican envoy ‘hot’

AP

The California Senate this week welcomed Sacramento’s newly-appointed Mexican Consul General Alejandra Garcia Williams with praise for her previous experience in Orange County...and her looks.

“All I can say, as politely as possible, is Alejandra is hot,” said Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, who also noted that Williams speaks Dutch.

Standing nearby, Williams shook her head and smiled, while Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León laughed and applauded as he walked to the microphone to speak next.

Tim Clark, Moorlach’s chief of staff, said the senator didn’t mean the comment in a sexist way. He said Moorlach considers Williams an old friend and is impressed by her ability to speak Dutch.

Moorlach is the latest in a long line of male politicians who’ve used a public forum to comment on their female colleagues’ appearance.

In April 2013, President Barack Obama drew criticism for calling California Attorney General Kamala Harris “by far the best-looking attorney general in the country” at a fundraiser in Atherton.

After the remark swept through the national news cycle, Obama’s spokesman apologized for "the distraction created by his comments.”

In May 2011, women legislators and legal groups blasted former Assemblyman Charles Calderon for what they said were inappropriate references to California Supreme Court Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye.

At an Assembly Judiciary Committee hearing for a bill to decentralize control of the California courts, the Whittier Democrat said he wasn’t targeting Cantil-Sakauye.

“It isn’t ‘Is she nice?’ ‘Cause she is,” he said. “‘Is she smart?’ ‘Cause she is. ‘Is she attractive?’ ‘Cause she is. It isn’t about that.”

Cantil-Saukye later said she was “troubled” by the remark, which she found offensive “in the context of a very serious hearing.” Calls for an apology, however, fell on deaf ears.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

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