In 2017, Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-CA) gained political support for speaking out about against sexual harassment and was featured on TIME’s cover story, “Silence Breakers,” which discussed activists of the #MeToo movement.
If recent claims against Garcia are true however, it establishes the former whistleblower as a hypocrite and moves the #MeToo movement backward.
On Monday, The Hill broke a story alleging that Garcia has been accused of sexually assaulting male staffers in 2014, creating a hostile work environment for her employees, and making comments against Asian-Americans.
In 2014, after Asian-American activists pushed to eliminate the affirmative-action ban on college admissions, Garcia remarked in a secret Democratic caucus meeting, “This makes me feel like I want to punch the next Asian person I see in the face,” according to Politico.
This is not the first time she made a discriminatory remark against a member of a marginalized community.
Garcia called John Perez, the first openly gay speaker of the Assembly, a “homo.” Even though Garcia issued a public apology to Perez, she made no direct communication to Perez about her comments.
Currently, Garcia is on unpaid leave, but plans to run for re-election.
Working Californians against Corruption, an ongoing campaign made by the California Building and Construction Trades Council, hopes to prevent Garcia’s bid. Members of the council used to be her strongest supporters, but they changed their opinion due to her behavior.
Anthony Rendon, who is the Democratic assembly speaker, defended Garcia, saying the campaign is “a thinly veiled attempt by Big Oil and polluters to intimidate me and my members.”
Not only has Garcia made anti-Asian comments, but she is under investigation for claims that she sexually harassed several male staffers.
For example, Daniel Fierro, a former staffer for Assemblyman Ian Calderon, claims Garcia groped him after a softball game.
According to Fierro’s account, Garcia found him alone cleaning the dugout. She appeared under the influence while she touched the lower part of his back, squeezed his butt and tried to touch his crotch before he left.
Fierro did not want to report the incident at the time, but he told his former boss, which prompted the investigation. Since Fierro no longer works as a staffer, he has little-to-no legal protection against his accuser or other members who come to Garcia’s defense.
Furthermore, an anonymous lobbyist informed Politico that Garcia also groped him during a fundraiser. The lobbyist also claimed that she was also drunk because he could smell the booze on her. He said Garcia specifically tried to grab his crotch and said to him, “I’ve set a goal for myself to fuck you.” He responded saying, “That ain’t gonna happen.”
Within her office, Garcia asked David Kernick, one of her staffers, to play spin the bottle.
Kernick claims Garcia dismissed him from his job because he questioned why the staffers had to play in the first place. He said in a statement to Politico that the environment she fostered “was definitely uncomfortable.”
Kernick and three other staffers wrote an open letter to Anthony Rendon about the toxic workplace that Garcia fostered in her office, which included drinking with staffers and discussing her sex life. It is important to mention that after Kernick made the complaint, Garcia wrote him up for insubordination and fired him.
After hearing about the sexual harassment allegations, Garcia made a statement, saying, “Every complaint should be taken seriously and I will participate fully in any investigation that takes place.”
Now, in a recent update, she denies the comments, calling the allegations “a political witch hunt.”
If the claims are true, one must wonder how the #MeToo movement will be affected if its standard bearers are themselves guilty of committing sexual assault.