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Bocanegra Resigns, Mendoza Loses Chairmanship After Harassment Allegations

Rich Pedroncelli / AP / File

In this May 4, 2017 file photo, Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, D-Los Angeles, speaks at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif.

Rich Pedroncelli / AP / File

The first California lawmaker has resigned amid an outcry over a culture of sexual harassment and abuse at the state Capitol.

California Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra announced his resignation on Monday, effective immediately, after multiple women alleged he groped them or made unwanted sexual advances.

The lawmaker made the announcement in a Facebook post, while continuing to deny the claims.

“I sincerely hope that my decision to resign immediately does not embolden those who are using this serious problem in our society to advance their own personal political gain,” Bocanegra wrote.

His resignation comes after two Los Angeles Times stories detailed allegations. The San Fernando Valley Democrat said he would not seek reelection, just before the second story’s publication last week.

Both Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and We Said Enough—the anti-harassment campaign organized by women at the Capitol—said the one resignation does not solve the larger problem in Sacramento.

“Eliminating one or two bad actors does not change the environment,” the We Said Enough Twitter account posted Monday afternoon. “We need systemic change.”

Governor Jerry Brown must call a special election to fill Bocanegra’s vacant seat.

Democratic Senator stripped of committee chairmanship

California state Senator Tony Mendoza will no longer chair a powerful committee overseeing financial institutions.

The California Senate Rules Committee met publicly for just over two minutes today to take that vote, which was approved unanimously.

Senate leader Kevin de León offered the motion  to strip his fellow Democrat of the Insurance, Banking and Financial Institutions committee chairmanship, as well as two board positions, following allegations that Mendoza fired staffers after they reported a sexual harassment allegation.

Mendoza remains a member of several other Senate committees.

De León avoided reporters after the vote. His office later released a statement in which the Senator called sexual harassment policies “zero-tolerance.”

At least one Republican state Senator has called for Mendoza to resign.

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