California

Sacramento Sex Scandal Offers Lessons About Hypocritical California Politics

Lawmakers want to meddle in everything you do, but they protect each other.

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There are few areas of private life that California's legislators won't at least attempt to meddle in, which makes it that much more infuriating when the Capitol crowd can't get its own house in order. I'm thinking, of course, about the unfolding sexual-harassment scandal, and lawmakers' amazing efforts to basically look the other way.

Nothing to see here, just keep moving on. Maybe, by the time lawmakers get back to work in January, the whole mess will be off the news pages. Then they can go back to doing what they do best—regulating and hectoring the rest of us. But, for now, the rest of us can at least learn some stellar lessons about political hypocrisy.

One key lesson is that a lawmakers' publicly stated positions and posturing have little to do with how they might handle any particular scandal.

The latest evidence of this comes from KPIX-TV in the Bay Area, which reported that Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), "is a vocal supporter of women's rights, so her silence on the matter of Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra's sexual harassment case is surprising." But "this isn't the first time she's been silent when it comes to sexual harassment" and that particular San Fernando Valley Assembly member, according to the news report.

Last month, a longtime legislative staffer, Elise Flynn Gyore, told the Sacramento Bee that in 2009 then-staffer Bocanegra followed her like "prey" at a nightclub and unexpectedly "put his hands up my blouse and down my blouse and was grabbing me." The Assembly Rules investigation found it "more likely than not that Mr. Bocanegra engaged in behavior that night which does not meet the Assembly's expectations for professionalism."

Bocanegra was disciplined, but the matter was brushed under the rug. Per the TV station, Bocanegra ran for his seat with the backing of the Democratic Party. He recently apologized but remains the powerful majority whip. KPIX obtained a copy of a letter 11 women sent to the rules committee seeking the file on the sexual-harassment complaint. Skinner was the chairwoman of the committee, and the TV station interviewed one of the letter's signers "who confirmed, Nancy Skinner never responded to their request."

This might not be as hypocritical as when, say, former Sen. Leland Yee, a San Francisco Democrat known for his strident gun-control positions, was arrested on corruption and gun-trafficking allegations after an undercover operation in that city's Chinatown that was worthy of a Hollywood movie. But it's close.

That leads to another lesson: Any new rules apply to us, not them.

You'll hear hyperbolic rhetoric on the Assembly and Senate floors warning about the crisis du jour, such as a wave of sexual abuse on college campuses. In 2014, the governor signed a "yes means yes" law that "requires affirmative consent—affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity—throughout the encounter, removing ambiguity for both parties," according to its authors.

I'm certainly not downplaying campus assaults, but there's far less of a zeal to do anything about the cascading evidence of deep, cultural problems regarding sexual harassment within the Capitol. Some scandals apparently are more worthy of action than others.

Gyore spoke out following publication of an open letter from 140 influential women—including six sitting lawmakers—complaining that many men in the Capitol "leveraged their power and positions to treat us however they would like." Why didn't they speak out? They didn't want to make waves given that these men often "hold our professional fates in their hands." They detailed an ugly culture in a state that "postures itself as a leader in justice and equality."

Those are stinging allegations, backed up by reports that the legislature quietly paid out $850,000 in taxpayer-funded harassment settlements over the past couple decades. The California Legislative Women's Caucus issued a statement noting that "the absence of repercussions is yet another example of the pervasive culture of sexual harassment within California politics." So much for this being a fuss about isolated examples.

Everyone deserves due process, of course. Yet this year the legislature passed a bill that, as The Atlantic summarized it, "would have broadened the definitions and rules regarding alleged sexual misconduct for students attending California colleges and universities." It was an effort to reinstate portions of an Obama-era edict that were gutted by the Trump administration.

Brown's unusually long veto message explained that some anti-harassment policies may "have also unintentionally resulted in some colleges' failure to uphold due process for accused students." Now that the Capitol is awash in accusations, we might expect newfound concern about due process—once the leadership gets around to seriously addressing the unfolding scandal.

Or look for new calls for better "training," which is how the Senate responded after three of its members faced criminal charges. Sure, finding hypocrisy among lawmakers is as surprising as finding waste in the bureaucracy, but it's shocking nonetheless.

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  1. “Sure, finding hypocrisy among lawmakers is as surprising as finding waste in the bureaucracy, but it’s shocking nonetheless.”

    Because finding waste in a bureaucracy is SHOCKING, I TELL YOU.

    1. Shocking to actually “find” it as opposed to merely theorize that it exists.

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        This is what I do… http://www.onlinecareer10.com

      2. I’m making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.

        This is what I do… http://www.onlinecareer10.com

  2. “a leader in justice and equality.”

    Pick any one.

    1. Typically it is neither.

  3. “New calls for better training” will make no difference.

    Just like most of us don’t need how to be taught how not to steal from others, or go around killing dogs, I think most of know not to grab random women with whom we are not in a relationship.

    Our “leaders” are a special brand of stupid, however. Although they may not be nearly as stupid as the people who vote for these p.o.s.’s and then re-elect them again and again.

    1. “New calls for better training”

      Hey! He just didn’t know you’re not supposed to grab random boob! Somebody needs to get him the memo.

    2. They do NOT grab random women. Please get the facts straight.
      They grab attractive women with less power than them.

      1. Women would have more power if they learned to throat punch the guy with his hands up her blouse.

        1. “if they learned to throat punch the guy with his hands up her blouse”
          …better training, indeed.

        2. I think they know how to do that just fine, they simply choose not to, because they really do like the power and control they have over the kind of men who put their hands up their blouses.

  4. It doesn’t help matters that the Dems have a death grip on both houses of the California legislature, or that the imposition of term limits simply means that the people in power today remain in power tomorrow, only in different positions as both parties keep their favorites employed on the public purse. It is a hothouse breeding greed and corruption well beyond the ordinary

  5. “New Calls for Better training”

    just means teaching them on how to not get caught

  6. This might not be as hypocritical as when, say, former Sen. Leland Yee, a San Francisco Democrat known for his strident gun-control positions, was arrested on corruption and gun-trafficking allegations after an undercover operation in that city’s Chinatown that was worthy of a Hollywood movie. But it’s close.

    The Leland Yee story was fucking hilarious. The lack of coverage that got was absurd. It was every bit as hilarious as the “anti-gay politician is gay’ stories, yet the media never touched it.

  7. I didn’t get an answer from anyone on the Reason staff, so I’ll ask again. How big is the sexual harassment story backlog?

    1. So big that even Mike Riggs can’t lift it.

      1. My opinion is we’re getting just the tip.

        1. You and Long Dong are SOOOO immature.

      2. Is that six inches six inches, or what you tell women is six inches?

        1. It’s the girth that matters, not the length.

    2. it ain’t the size that matters, it’s the motion.

    3. And does this fall under the ENB beat? Or does she only write about consensual sex?

    1. So the fire’s getting bigger. No, you can’t use my hose.

  8. When Californian politicians and actors have been harping about sexism and harassment over the last few years, I have asked myself, “what kind of world do these people live in?”

    Now I know.

    1. When a man proudly declares himself a feminist, I presume he’s corning women in the broom closet and masturbating in front of them.

      1. corning! LOL

        Cornering. But the prior works just as well.

        1. No, the prior is busy with the boys.

  9. “This might not be as hypocritical as when, say, former Sen. Leland Yee, a San Francisco Democrat known for his strident gun-control positions, was arrested on corruption and gun-trafficking allegations after an undercover operation in that city’s Chinatown that was worthy of a Hollywood movie.”

    I actually really hope someone makes a movie about that. I still remember when it went down. Such a crazy corruption story. It practically writes itself! I just wonder who they’ll get to play Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow.

    1. “I just wonder who they’ll get to play Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow.”

      Lucy Liu

    2. “I actually really hope someone makes a movie about that. I still remember when it went down. Such a crazy corruption story. It practically writes itself! I just wonder who they’ll get to play Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow.”

      Won’t happen. Between the lefty SF government sort of ‘forgetting’ it and the lefty H-wood culture choosing to focus on ‘profit = bad’, there is no drive or mechanism to get it out.

  10. I’ve noticed a sizable absence of european finger wagging at the latest example of American “prudishness.” I think it might have to do with europe drowning in the same PC femnazi stagnation and perhaps far deeper. Think of the swedish government removing the penis from lion on their country’s seal because they felt 21st century women (and probably new arrivals to their country from not so liberal cultures) were offended by it. It’s a literal castration. How could europe judge the USA now?

    1. Just think how the poor lion felt.
      We’ve devolved as Western culture to a nursery of whiny, self-absorbed infants in a perpetual foot-stomping tantrum. I wonder if this is how Rome looked in its later days?
      Poor lion.

  11. What, aren’t the unions supplying California legislators with hookers anymore?

    -jcr

    1. They do, but somehow Diane and Nancy don’t do it for most men anymore.

  12. The lid has been blown off the extensive ongoing sexual harassment scandal in our California state capitol building. It’s pervasive. HUNDREDS of charges are being levied by (mostly) women finally coming forward.

    Sad as it is, it’s a wonderful opportunity to compare the moral depravity of the two political parties. Democrats make up about 2/3 of the state legislators. The rest are Republican.

    So my question is this: “What percent of the charges are against DEMOCRAT legislators and their senior staff, vs. the number of charges against REPUBLICANS?”

    Here’s my unsubstantiated hypothesis: All human beings are subject to the same depraved thoughts — well at least the same PERCENT are subject to such thoughts. The difference is that Republicans are less likely than Democrats to ACT OUT those thoughts.

    I have no doubt that some charges are against Republicans. I’m suggesting that it’s likely that the Democrats have a significantly higher percent of complaints than their 2/3 majority would “justify.” If this is true, then it undercuts the progressive mantra that it’s conservatives who are sexists — the enemy of women.

    Our state legislature presents us with a fine sample (120 politicians plus their loyal staffers) of leaders from both parties. Someone more energetic than me needs to do the compilation of the complaints.

    Let’s apply the Democrat axiom:
    “Let no crisis go to waste.”

    1. To date, EVERY article about this Sacramento legislative sexual harassment scandal has mentioned ONLY Democrats. EVERY SINGLE ARTICLE I’ve seen.

      Yet no MSM outlet will mention this huge disparity. Anyone surprised?

      Apply this acid test as to media bias: IF the miscreant accusations were overwhelmingly against GOP abusers, would not the press be headlining this disparity daily?

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