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  • lawmaker made anti-Asian comments

    SAN FRANCISCO — California Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, the prominent #MeToo activist now under investigation for groping and sexual harassment of former legislative staffers, was reprimanded by former Assembly Speaker John Perez in 2014 for making racially insensitive comments directed toward Asians.
    Perez confirmed to POLITICO on Saturday that he had to “strongly admonish” Garcia after she made comments against Asians in a closed-door Assembly Democratic Caucus meeting in 2014 — the same year in which she also acknowledged using homophobic slurs aimed at Perez, the first openly gay speaker of the California State Assembly.

    Sources familiar with the incident say Garcia’s anti-Asian remarks came during a legislative battle that arose when Asian-American community activists successfully lobbied to defeat a Democratic proposal to overturn California’s ban on affirmative action in college admissions. They argued that such a move could hurt Asian student admission rates.

    Perez in mid-March 2014 announced a move to return the bill to the Senate without any action from the Assembly, effectively blocking its advance.
    Garcia, the sources said, erupted in anger during a tense meeting of the entire Assembly Democratic caucus.

    “This makes me feel like I want to punch the next Asian person I see in the face,” according to sources present at the meeting and other legislative sources who were told about the comments in the immediate aftermath.
    California Playbook newsletter
    Our must-read briefing on politics and government in the Golden State.

    The revelations about Garcia’s past use of racially insensitive language come as political troubles continue to mount for the Bell Gardens Democrat, who, sources say, is preparing to return to the Assembly after a voluntary leave of absence and run for reelection.
    Her leave followed POLITICO’s report of a formal complaint that she groped a former legislative staffer after a legislative softball game. She also faces allegations, also first reported by POLITICO, that she sexually harassed David John Kernick, a former staff member in her office, allegedly urging him and other staffers to play “spin the bottle” after a night of drinking in 2014.

    Garcia has strongly denied the allegations, calling them part of a political witch hunt.
    She did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

    The growing cloud around Garcia prompted the powerhouse California Building and Construction Trades Council last week to launch a rare independent expenditure campaign against an incumbent Democratic assemblywoman. The campaign to block Garcia’s reelection bid in her East Los Angeles district — which sources say could involve hundreds of thousands of dollars — is titled “Working Californians Against Corruption’’ and was filed on the California secretary of state’s website on Friday.

    “The Building Trades join in the chorus of outrage over Assemblymember Garcia’s reprehensible behavior — from allegations of sexual assault and harassment, to her admitted use of hate speech against Speaker Emeritus Perez and the LGBTQ community, to her flimsy excuses for bad behavior that is not acceptable for an elected official,’’ said Erin Lehane, a spokeswoman for the organization.

    Lehane told POLITICO that while the influential union has been among Garcia’s strongest supporters in the past, her “overwhelming hypocrisy” now calls for a reversal, especially since “the trades have thousands of hard-working members living in Garcia’s district.”
    Said Lehane: “We look forward to lifting up another Democrat in the 58th Assembly District to better represent them and their families.”

    Asked for reaction to the union move to unseat Garcia, Democratic Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, through campaign spokesman Bill Wong, vowed to defend her and lambasted the new campaign as “a thinly veiled attempt by Big Oil and polluters to intimidate me and my members.”
    Calling the effort “an affront to my speakership,’’ Rendon said, “We are proud of the work that the Assembly has done to increase jobs and wages while defending our environment.” He added: “We will vigorously defend the members of our caucus from any ill-advised political attack."

    Rendon appeared to be referring to a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times on Friday, paid for in part by the same union, which urged California Democrats to protect blue-collar workers and “real jobs that fuel the California economy” — including those in the oil and gas industry — instead of aligning with “ivory tower elites.”
    Kevin Liao, spokesman for Rendon’s speaker’s office, refused comment on the ad Saturday. But he later posted — then deleted — a tweet with an image of a hitman from the TV show “The Wire,’’ which carried the message: “You come at the king; you best not miss.”

    Prior to the allegations of sexual misconduct, Garcia had won national media attention in 2017 for speaking out against sexual harassment and was one of hundreds of Sacramento women who signed an October letter with the hashtag #WeSaidEnough protesting harassment. She appeared last year as part of Time’s cover story on “Silence Breakers,” which honored the activists of the #MeToo movement.

    Since then, however, she’s been subject to a legislative investigation over allegations of sexual harassment and groping. And in a March interview with KQED radio, Garcia acknowledged referring to Perez as a “homo” and said she used “candid language” in what she believed was a “safe space” of her office.
    Kernick, the former Garcia staffer, told POLITICO the legislator also used the slur “faggot” to refer to Perez in the wake of the affirmative action debate, though Garcia has denied that.

    Garcia has since issued a public apology to Perez for calling him a “homo,’’ saying she made that remark “in a moment of anger.’’ She noted that “I have a long and chronicled history of being a straight ally of the LGBTQ community.”
    The former speaker said that he has never received any direct communication from Garcia after she acknowledged referring to him using homophobic language.
    Aside from the fallout from her comments and the union campaign against her, Garcia faces another complicating factor in her reelection.

    POLITICO has found that the Democratic lawmaker has embellished a part of her résumé — her claim to hold a master’s degree from UCLA — marking the second time in her legislative career that Garcia has been discovered to have made false claims about her educational background.

    Officials of the university confirmed to POLITICO that Garcia has never attended the school.
    In Garcia’s first bid for elective office in 2010, the East Los Angeles candidate claimed to have a Ph.D. from USC. But during her 2012 reelection bid, the Los Cerritos News reported Garcia’s claim was false, a revelation that prompted Garcia to issue a statement admitting she had exaggerated her educational credentials.
    “While I have finished all of my course work, I technically am only a Ph.D. candidate. I have yet to finish the final process of my Ph.D., which is defending my dissertation. I will fulfill that final responsibility in the near future,’’ she said.

    Garcia has since scrubbed that claim from her official Assembly website. USC officials told POLITICO that Garcia was enrolled as a doctoral candidate at the university from 2002 until 2010, and again briefly in 2016 — but that “no degree was ever conferred.”

    The current edition of the California Target Book — a widely respected reference book on California politics — states that Garcia holds a master’s degree from UCLA, a claim that also appears in the 2017-18 edition of the California Legislative Digest.

    Publishers of both books — reference volumes used by hundreds of legislative staffers, press and elected officials in the Capitol annually — say they do no original reporting but instead rely on material directly from legislative sources.

    Target Book publisher Darry Sragow says Garcia’s office has never asked to correct that record.


    This article was originally published in forum thread: lawmaker made anti-Asian comments started by EB88 News View original post

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