California state senator resigns amid harassment allegations

The Latest Investigation of senator finds misconduct likely

Investigators also substantiated claims involving five other women, including a former 19-year-old intern who said that he offered her drinks and asked about her dating life in his hotel room during the 2008 California Democratic Convention, and a former Senate fellow who has not been named.

Lawyers investigating complaints against Mendoza, who is 46 and married, found that he likely engaged in unwanted "flirtatious or sexually suggestive" behavior going back to 2006 with six women, including four subordinates, a lobbyist and a young woman in a fellowship with another lawmaker.

The Senate Rules Committee released a four-page summary of its investigation - conducted by a pair of private law firms - on Tuesday.

He stepped down as the Senate was expected to consider a resolution introduced by de Leon that sought to expel Mendoza, citing the conclusions of the investigation and the body's zero-tolerance policy toward sexual harassment.

Mendoza has repeatedly blasted the Senate's harassment investigation, and he continued that criticism in his resignation letter, calling the probe "farcical" and in violation of Senate rules and his own due process and constitutional rights. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, to resign abruptly rather than face expulsion by his Senate colleagues followed almost three months of denials that he'd acted inappropriately with a series of staffers and other women in the Capitol. "However, the recipients of this unwelcome behavior understood that Mendoza was suggesting sexual contact".

De Leon, a longtime friend and former roommate of Mendoza, chairs the Senate Rules Committee. He's the third California lawmaker to resign over sexual misconduct claims in recent months. Senators could vote to censure, suspend, expel or impose other sanctions on their colleague.

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No senator has been expelled since 1905, and the Senate has suspended just three members - Leland Yee, Ron Calderon and Roderick Wright - all of them in 2014 when they faced criminal charges. After reviewing the full report and conferring with some members of the #Me Too movement, they agreed it was more appropriate to suspend the Democrat without pay through the end of the year, when his term ends, said Senate Republican Leader Patricia Bates.

In his resignation letter, Mendoza said he was "immensely sorry if my words or actions ever made anyone feel uncomfortable".

He did not directly address the investigation's other findings.

Sexual misconduct in the California Legislature has dominated the conversation since lawmakers returned in January, with the burgeoning scandal taking one surprising twist after another. Both are Democrats from Los Angeles County.

Meanwhile, Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia is on leave after being accused of groping a male legislative staffer.

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