#MeToo Advocate Accused of Pushing Staffers to Play Spin the Bottle

Cristina-garcia-FB

A California state lawmaker who'd been at the forefront of the #MeToo movement has been accused of sexually harassing multiple aides, of firing one for refusing to play "spin the bottle", and of bragging about having sex with other Assembly members to gain information.

Kernick, 38, who worked for the assemblywoman for five months in 2014, described to POLITICO an evening of heavy drinking in which Garcia ended up sitting on a hotel room floor with about half-dozen people - including her staffers and at least one male friend - and prompted them to play a game that results in participants kissing each other.

He said Kernick was sacked for underwhelming performance at his job, even after being warned often to improve. "But I realized it's different for a man than for a woman..."

"I didn't know I was part of the story", the assemblywoman tweeted at the time "I'm proud of this work, and proud of the company I'm in", including the popular hashtags #MeToo and #WeSaidEnough.

Last week, Kernick and three other former staffers signed a letter addressed to Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) that charged Garcia with presiding over a "toxic" workplace that included heavy drinking and lurid conversations.

Share this article: Bell Gardens Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia.

San Diego lawyer Dan Gilleon filed a formal complaint with the legislature against Garcia on behalf of the four former employees.

Democratic Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia of Bell Gardens has been on voluntary, unpaid leave since February 9, after former Capitol staffer Daniel Fierro accused her of groping him at a legislative softball game in 2014. He allegedly fled after she attempted to grab his groin. Daniel Fierro, a former staffer for fellow California lawmaker Ian Calderon, alleges that Garcia-whom he said appeared to be drunk-groped him following a softball game.

The lobbyist told the magazine Garcia was under the influence of alcohol at the time. "That's all that I can see". "She looked at me for a second and said, 'I've set a goal for myself to f*** you'". As he was walking past her, Fierro said, Garcia made a grab for his crotch.

The lawmaker's chief of staff, Ashley Labar, refuted the claims.

"Upon reflection of the details alleged, I am certain I did not engage in the behavior I am accused of".

When the allegations first emerged, Ms Garcia said she had "zero recollection of engaging in inappropriate behaviour".

"There are times in a lot of offices where someone will have wine or that nature".

Ms Garcia, who was elected in 2012 and chairs the Legislative Women's Caucus and the Natural Resources Committee, pledged to participate in any sexual harassment investigation.

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