A group of women said today that a candidate for California's 39th district, Raul Bocanegra, has faced an allegation of sexual harassment "several years ago," a claim that they want to know more about as he faces off against embattled L.A. city Councilman Richard Alarcon for the office.
A letter from the dozen female signatories went out today to assembly rules committee chair Nancy Skinner.
It makes this request:
We are asking that you please make public any sexual harassment complaints made against Raul Bocanegra, including what the investigation found of said complaint and whether or not a financial settlement of any kind was reached. These are taxpayer dollars and voters have a right to know if a State employee's sexual harassment settlement cost the taxpayers money while still allowing him to continue to walk the halls of the State Capitol.
The letter claims that ...
... We have been made aware of from various elected officials within the state capitol that a complaint of sexual harassment was filed against the Chief of Staff to Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, Raul Bocanegra. This complaint was made by a female California state employee and was filed several years ago.
After a copy of the document was forwarded to the Weekly, we called the top signatory, charter school psychologist Danitza Pantoja, who confirmed that it was sent today.
She says she was leaning toward supporting Bocanegra in the race until learning of the old allegation. Now, she says:
I wouldn't want to to support someone like this if it's true.
Other signatories include Amber Martinez, a recent L.A. city council redistricting commissioner who was appointed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and Yamilet Juerra and Paloma Cisneros of the Latino Democrats of the San Fernando Valley.
The race between Bocanegra and Alarcon has already become contentious, and this hit our desk like a pile of mud.
Both men seem to have powerful allies in California's Latino-Democrat machinery: Bocanegra counts state Sen. Alex Padilla as a backer; Alarcon has assemblyman Gil Cedillo in his corner.
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Still, Pantoja says the concern over a years' old sexual harassment claim is sincere:
We have the right to know who we are electing.
We called Bocanegra's campaign office for a response and had yet to hear back.