California lawmaker reprimanded for sexual comments
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Assemblyman Devon Mathis was reprimanded last month for making sexual comments, including about fellow lawmakers, the Assembly announced Wednesday.
A letter from the Assembly Rules Committee to Mathis says his comments violated the chamber’s sexual harassment policy.
It gave no details about Mathis’ comments but described them as “locker room talk.”
Mathis, a Visalia Republican, apologized in a statement.
“The locker-room conversation referenced in the letter, that took place almost four years ago, was wrong,” he said.
Mathis said the Assembly found “no wrongdoing of any sexual misconduct,” referencing a part of the letter that says another misconduct claim was unsubstantiated. The letter doesn’t give details about that claim.
Mathis’ office said the unsubstantiated allegation stemmed from a political blog post.
The post accused Mathis of sexual assault and other inappropriate behavior based on an anonymous interview with a person who claimed to have knowledge of it.
Sacramento police spokeswoman Linda Matthew said last year that investigators found no evidence to support criminal charges against Mathis.
Mathis has denied all the allegations made against him except for the “locker-room conversation,” which he hasn’t contested.
Mathis’ chief of staff Justin Turner said the assemblyman doesn’t remember the conversation in question.
“He doesn’t recall the comments himself, but he didn’t want to keep fighting and wasting taxpayer dollars on more investigations,” Turner said.
Kevin Liao, a spokesman for Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, a Lakewood Democrat, says Mathis will be required to complete sensitivity training and instruction on the Assembly’s sexual misconduct policy.
Liao said the Assembly would not release any further information about the investigation, including what comments Mathis is alleged to have made.
Mathis is the most recent lawmaker to be punished following a sexual misconduct investigation. Earlier this year, Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, a Bell Gardens Democrat, lost her committee assignments and was required to attend sensitivity training after an investigation found she used vulgar language in violation of the Assembly’s sexual harassment policy.
The Legislature has faced intense scrutiny for its process of handling sexual misconduct complaints. Critics say the process lacks transparency and leads to distrust, which discourages people from reporting harassment.