Cristina Garcia, the California assemblywoman who was accused of sexually assaulting a male staffer earlier this month, now faces a fresh wave of sexual misconduct allegations.
David John Kernick, 38, who worked in Garcia’s office in 2014, told Politico he was fired after five months for questioning the Democrat and #MeToo activist’s decision to make her staff play “spin the bottle” after a fundraiser.
Kernick said Garcia sat on a hotel room floor with about six people after heavy drinking when she urged her staff to participate in the game.
“It was definitely uncomfortable,” Kernick recalled. “But I realized it’s different for a man than for a woman. … You know it’s inappropriate, but at the same time you may wonder, ‘How many women do you work for that act like that?’ You think … ‘Maybe she’s just really cool.’”
Last week, Kernick and three other former staffers signed a letter addressed to Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) that charged Garcia with presiding over a “toxic” workplace that included heavy drinking and lurid conversations.
San Diego lawyer Dan Gilleon filed a formal complaint with the legislature against Garcia on behalf of the four former employees.
Garcia took a leave of absence Friday after becoming the subject of an investigation into her alleged 2014 groping of Daniel Fierro, a former staffer for Assemblyman Ian Calderon (D-Whittier).
Fierro claimed Garcia grabbed his buttocks and rubbed his back against his will during a legislative softball game. He allegedly fled after she attempted to grab his groin.
Politico also reported on a Sacramento lobbyist who said Garcia propositioned him for sex at a 2017 fundraising event for California Governor Jerry Brown.
The lobbyist told the magazine Garcia was under the influence of alcohol at the time.
“She came back and was whispering real close and I could smell the booze and see she was pretty far gone,” he said. “She looked at me for a second and said, ‘I’ve set a goal for myself to f*** you.'”
Garcia has denied all the allegations against her.
The lawmaker’s chief of staff, Ashley Labar, refuted the claims. “I’ve never seen the member engage in the behavior listed in the letter by Mr. Gilleon,” she said.
Former chief of staff Tim Reardon said he never saw inappropriate alcohol consumption at Garcia’s office.
“There are times in a lot of offices where someone will have wine or that nature. But there has never been excessive drinking like it’s some kind of drinking party.”
Garcia has been a staunch advocate of the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct and has authored numerous bills designed to address sexual assault.
The Democrat’s activism earned her inclusion in Time magazine’s Person of the Year issue in December, which honored the “Silence Breakers,” women who have spoken out against sexual abuse.
I didn’t know I was part of the story. That I was pictured and added to a timeline of this reckoning. It’s an awkwardly humbling experience, but I am proud of this work and the company I am in. I hope you’ll pick up a copy of @TIME &read about the bravery.#MeToo #WeSaidEnough pic.twitter.com/P1bfCDPKCf
— Cristina Garcia (@AsmGarcia) December 15, 2017
On Wednesday, Garcia stepped down from her role as chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus amid the allegations.