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Sexual harassment scandals derail California democrats' agenda

California senate leader Kevin de Leon is under fire for his handling of sexual harassment allegations in Sacramento. (Photo by Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images)

According to a report from Politico, resignations due to sexual harassment scandals have cost Democrats their supermajority in California's legislature, thus temporarily saving the people of California from tax hikes, at least for a few months.

As Politico notes, two Democratic assemblymen — Raul Bocanegra and Matt Dababneh — have already been forced out of office due to sexual harassment scandals. Bocanegra resigned in November after the Los Angeles Times published a report detailing allegations from six different women who accused him of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Dababneh has stated that he will resign effective Jan. 1st following allegations that he engaged in inappropriate behavior, including masturbating in front of a lobbyist.

According to Politco, Democrats are heavily favored to retain both seats, but elections for replacement representatives will not take place for months. Without those two votes, however, Democrats lack the supermajority they need to pass any tax hikes, which is a favorite pastime of the California Assembly.

But the Democrats' problems don't end with Bocanegra and Dababneh. As Politico notes, the Assembly already has three hearings scheduled for January involving other Democratic lawmakers, with no end in sight.

The scandals are also affecting the Democratic-controlled senate, as powerful state senator Tony Mendoza (D) has been stripped of his leadership posts after facing multiple allegations that he behaved inappropriately toward female staffers and threatened punitive action if any reported his actions.

The combined allegations have ground legislative business in Sacramento to a halt as Senate leader Kevin de Leon and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon scramble to contain the damage and protect the image of their party. Earlier this month, de Leon announced that the senate has hired two separate law firms to investigate allegations of misconduct and to make recommendations on the reporting process. The Assembly has likewise hired an outside law firm to conduct investigations into misconduct, including Dababneh's.

The scandals come at a particularly inopportune time for de Leon, who is widely expected to contend for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the impending retirement of Dianne Feinstein (D). According to Politico, activists in Sacramento have protested his handling of the sexual harassment allegations, claiming that he has not done enough to protect female staffers who have been subject to abuse.

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