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Women who have experienced or seen sexual harassment in the Capitol are speaking out, but many fear the consequences of telling their stories.
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Capitol Alert

The go-to source for news on California policy and politics

Capitol Alert

California assemblyman investigated for alleged sexual misconduct

By Alexei Koseff

akoseff@sacbee.com

November 16, 2017 11:57 AM

Sacramento police and the California Legislature are investigating allegations of sexual misconduct published by a Southern California blogger involving Assemblyman Devon Mathis.

The alleged misconduct was reported to law enforcement officials last month by Joseph Turner, a conservative activist who runs a nationalist, anti-immigration advocacy group.

In a post on his website, Turner detailed an alleged incident last year involving Mathis, a Visalia Republican, and an unnamed legislative staff member after an evening out on the fundraising circuit. He attributed the account to two anonymous sources.

Jennifer Jacobs, a spokeswoman for Mathis, dismissed the allegations as “hearsay by people who weren’t even there.”

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“There is no victim. There is no woman. There is no crime,” she said. “No one who was there is saying this happened.”

The Bee is not naming the woman, who declined to comment through her current employer.

Since the Legislature this summer extended one of California’s signature climate change policies, Turner has been targeting Republican lawmakers, including Mathis, who voted for the cap-and-trade program, which Turner views as a betrayal of conservative values. He earlier led a push to oust former Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes from his caucus post, surfacing allegations that Mayes was having an affair with his predecessor. He has blogged repeatedly about Mathis, with varying allegations.

The Sacramento Police Department confirmed this week that the complaint against Mathis is “still assigned to our investigations unit.”

“Due to the nature of the allegations we are not able to discuss the investigation,” police spokesman Eddie Macaulay wrote in an email.

Turner provided emails to The Bee in which he was asked to participate in an Assembly review of the allegations.

“I am an independent attorney investigator retained by the State Assembly to investigate the allegations about Assemblymember Mathis as reported in your blog,” Jennifer Shaw wrote to Turner on Nov. 8. “I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss this matter with you. Please let me know when you might be available.”

Turner said he has not yet spoken with Shaw because he is “leery” of the seriousness of her investigation.

Shaw is the founder of a Sacramento-based employment law firm that conducts “neutral investigations for employers.” She previously oversaw a 2009 Assembly investigation into Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, a Los Angeles Democrat who at the time worked as a chief of staff and was disciplined for “inappropriate and unwelcome physical contact” with another staff member.

Kevin Liao, a spokesman for Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, said he could not comment specifically on whether the Assembly is conducting an investigation of Mathis.

“Any report that’s made is investigated,” he said. “And any investigation that involves a member is handled by outside counsel.”

Mathis is the third sitting legislator to be accused of misconduct since Oct. 17, when more than 140 female legislators, lobbyists, political consultants and other women in the Capitol community released an open letter decrying “dehumanizing behavior by men with power in our workplaces.”

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff