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ARTESIA CHAMBER LUNCH WILL HONOR ASSEMBLYWOMAN CRISTINA GARCIA, CURRENTLY UNDER INVESTIGATION

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia

 

BY BRIAN HEWS

The Artesia Chamber of Commerce located in Artesia, California is holding a “State of the State” luncheon that is causing a firestorm of controversy in and around the tiny Southeastern Los Angeles County town.  

The Chamber has booked embattled 58the District Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) as the guest speaker at their July 31 luncheon. 

Garcia is currently under investigation by the California Legislature for sexual-harassment and groping allegations levied by a former staffer.

But apparently that does not matter to the Chamber President Sahlia Patankar or its Board, who claims Larry Caballero as a member, an outspoken advocate of Garcia. 

Caballero’s local Hubert Humphrey Democratic Club endorsed Garcia at the height of the harassment and groping allegations.

The allegations began back in February when Daniel Fierro, a resident of nearby Cerritos, told POLITICO that Garcia groped him at the annual Assembly softball game in Sacramento.

Fierro said that Garcia appeared drunk came up and started stroking his back, then squeezed his butt, finally attempting a “reach around” to grab his crotch.

Garcia later took an unpaid leave of absence saying, “any claims about sexual harassment must be taken seriously, and I believe elected officials should be held to a higher standard of accountability.”

The first investigation concluded in May with the Assembly Rules Committee finding the groping charges “unsubstantiated,” but three other harassment issues “substantiated.”

Fierro filed an appeal, and the investigation was re-opened, but, contrary to her statement and past actions, Garcia did not take a leave of absence.

She was stripped of all committee assignments by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood), only able to vote on Assembly bills; and even that was controversial. 

Garcia walked away from voting on two bills, one to place child sex trafficking and other heinous abuses in the violent felony category; the other prohibiting a person convicted of domestic violence, who could own a gun after ten years, from ever owning a gun.

And once again the Chamber shrugged her controversial votes off.

During the entire harassment investigation period, Garcia was alleged to have committed lurid acts both inside and outside the legislature.

Staffers claimed Garcia drank and bragged about having sex in her office, forced staffers to play “Spin the Bottle,” and had a “Kegerator” in her office.

Garcia also admitted to calling former Speaker of the Assembly John Perez a “homo” and using racial slurs against Asians.

A HMG-CN investigation found that the self-proclaimed #MeToo advocate took $7,000 from Hustler’s Larry Flynt, a man who once said, “I’ve always felt that feminism is an excuse for ugly women to march.” 

Despite all the explicit allegations, a current sexual harassment investigation, and the fact Garcia can only vote and cannot influence the passage of Assembly bills, the Artesia Chamber invited her to speak at the “State of the State” luncheon.

“The Assemblywoman will be discussing the latest updates on new laws and possible legislation that impacts our business community,” the Chamber’s promotional flyer states.

“Interesting,” said one resident who did not want to be identified, “how can she talk about possible legislation when she is not in on the discussions? This is a stunt by the Chamber to give Garcia publicity, shame on them.”

Several emails and texts into Chamber officials for comment went unreturned. HMG-CN could not locate Chamber President Shaila Patankar who no longer works at Hanmi Bank in Artesia.

Mike Simpfenderfer, who is running against Garcia in November, told HMG-CN,  “It is unfortunate the 58th Assembly District suffered silence and endured no leadership for more than six months. We deserve better and it is time for a change in the 58th. Voters will find me working every day in the district, not once every six months.”

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