She was called the “vanguard of the California #MeToo movement.”
She shared her own tales of being groped while in elected office.
She appeared in a Time magazine photo collage as one of the “silence breakers” as part of its Person of the Year issue.
Now, “progressive” Democratic California Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, 40, has had the tables turned on her as she faces sexual harassment charges by two men – one a legislative staffer and the other a lobbyist – both of whom say she made inappropriate sexual advances toward them.
I should say she denies the charges, but, as the #MeToo movement suggests, what difference does that make? She has taken a leave of absence from the state Legislature while the charges are being investigated.
I should say the charges are lurid – too lurid to be published in a news outlet whose standards require passing what we call at WND “the homeschool mom” test: “Is this appropriate for a homeschool mom who is using WND for the study of current events with her kids?”
As the L.A. Times put it, the story is “an unusual twist of the gender dynamics shaping misconduct controversies.” In other words, who ever thought this kind of gotcha sting could ever come home to haunt women – especially “one of the vanguard of the California #MeToo movement”?
Only one other woman in American politics is believed to have found herself in that position in the current climate: Andrea Ramsey, a Democratic congressional candidate in Kansas, who denied wrongdoing but dropped out of her race after allegations of misconduct from her past re-emerged.
Politico first reported the allegations against Garcia brought by Daniel Fierro, a former legislative staffer for Assemblyman Ian Calderon who alleged Garcia stroked his back and buttocks and reached for his groin at a legislative softball game in 2014. Fierro told Calderon about the incident several weeks ago, and the assemblyman then reported it to the Assembly Rules Committee, which initiated an investigation. Why did Fierro wait so long to report the incident? He said he was wary of speaking out publicly due to the unusual nature of his complaint.
“I worried before [the story published] it would be treated or received differently because of the gender dynamics involved,” Fierro said. “There is clearly a culture that affects both men and women in the Capitol that needs to be improved on and made stronger so the Capitol can do the good work that it has to do.”
Politico also reported on an unnamed lobbyist who said Garcia, who is unmarried, propositioned him and attempted to grab his crotch at a fundraising event in 2017. The lobbyist told the publication he did not report the incident formally.
The decision by Garcia to step aside from her duties in the Assembly have created some disquieting vacancies in responsibilities – especially since Garcia serves as chairwoman of the Legislative Women’s Caucus. No one has stepped in to claim that job.
Ironically, Garcia has become one of the highest-profile female California legislators since besting fellow Democrat Assemblyman Tom Calderon in 2012. The man she defeated is the uncle of the legislator who reported the Fierro charge against her, though the two Calderons are said to be on non-speaking terms.
One of her pet causes in the Legislature was to provide free menstrual products to students in low-income schools. She talked openly about her own period on the Assembly floor and toted a self-fashioned “Tampon Barbie.” She later brandished the doll at a signing ceremony with Gov. Jerry Brown.
“Her entire elected career – and previous to that as an activist – has been the tip of the spear, charging forward to give voice to the underserved and voiceless,” said Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman, a Garcia ally. “When you play that role, you make yourself a target.”
Wait a minute! Is she the victim here or the alleged perp?
In 2016, she called on then-Assemblyman Roger Hernandez to step aside after a judge issued a temporary restraining order against him amid domestic violence allegations. She was quick to call for the immediate resignation of then-Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra in November, after the L.A. Times reported multiple women accused him of unwanted advances. And she was outspoken about the allegations that state Sen. Tony Mendoza behaved improperly with female staffers, declaring she would not work with him and criticizing him for working while on leave during an investigation into his conduct.
But, of course, that’s just what Garcia is doing.
Back then she tweeted to Bocanegra: “You are not the victim, you are the perpetrator who’s victimized untold #’s of women & girls & brought shame to the people you purported to represent. Don’t wait till 2018. Leave now.”
And, on that basis, Garcia is the recipient of the Joseph Farah Award for representing everything wrong with the new ethos of sexual morality in America today.