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Investigation finds Asm. Cristina Garcia was drunk and ‘overly familiar,’ but did not sexually assault staffer

BY BRIAN HEWS

The Assembly has once again yielded to Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia’s apparent inside information on some Assembly members, saying she was simply “overly familiar” with staff member Danny Fierro in 2014, but that her alleged drunken reach around grabbing Fierro’s crotch was not sexual.

In a letter to Garcia, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said her behavior had violated the Assembly’s sexual harassment policy and that “appropriate action will be taken to prevent future similar conduct.”

As with other decisions with Garcia, the letter did not specify “appropriate action.”

The investigator said about Garcia, “while in a state of inebriation, you encountered Mr. Fierro, grabbed his arm for support, put your hand on his back and were overly familiar with him in a way that you would not have been had you been sober. However, the preponderance of the evidence did not support a finding that you touched Mr. Fierro on his buttock or genitals or that this was a sexual encounter.”

Garcia said in a statement that she was “pleased that the investigation has concluded.”

“Unfortunately, while I disagree with some of the other specific findings, I believe that enough taxpayer dollars have been spent on this investigation. I again apologize if language I used in the past made anyone feel uncomfortable. I look forward to continuing to serve my constituents as an advocate for good government, environmental justice, and on women’s issues.”

Fierro accused Garcia in February of grabbing his crotch in 2014 at a softball game; at the time Fierro worked for Assemblyman Ian Calderon.

The first investigation did not “substantiate” groping allegations but, once again, found that Garcia was far from the #MeToo image she portrayed.

The investigation found she had frequently used vulgar and racist language in the office and asked staff to perform personal tasks.

Garcia was subsequently taken off all committee assignments and was mandated to attend sensitivity training.

Fierro blasted the investigation and appealed the decision, saying he provided witnesses that were never interviewed.

The letter sent to Garcia confirmed that those witnesses were contacted and interviewed by attorney Amy Oppenheimer.

Also not substantiated by the investigation was a story exclusively reported by HMG-LCCN that Garcia, along with 65thAssembly woman Sharon Quirk Silva (D-Fullerton), retaliated against Fierro after he made his complaint by interfering with his efforts to land the ABC Unified School District Measure BB infrastructure bond marketing contract.

The contract was awarded to an outsider, Ralph Pacheco, who did not live in the district and was endorsed by Board member Maynard Law, a big supporter of Garcia’s.

At issue was Quirk-Silva’s attempts to pressure a client of Fierro, a local Orange County businessman who is politically connected and who wished to remain anonymous, to fire Fierro and his firm.

According to the sources, Jesus Silva called the businessman first to pressure him to fire Fierro.

Quirk-Silva then followed up with a meeting with the businessman to talk about “issues” in the district.

During the meeting, Quirk-Silva echoed her husband’s statements and made it clear to the businessman that he should fire Fierro because of his sexual harassment and groping allegations against Garcia.

The reportedly shocked businessman was then told that “not doing so might result in her [Garcia’s] political disfavor.”

Although the sources could not confirm how the Assembly became aware of the Quirk-Silva accusation, they did confirm that Assembly’s contracted investigator expanded the scope of the ongoing investigation of Fierro’s claim against Garcia to include Quirk-Silva’s alleged retaliation.

It was at that time when HMG-LCCN confirmed the investigator was Amy Openheimer.

Fierro told the Sacramento Bee Wednesday that he was “annoyed at the whole process.” He said he found it “problematic” that the investigator’s conclusion upheld his entire version of events except the groping.

“But you can’t actually substantiate the one piece that matters?” he said. “It is appalling to me, absolutely appalling, that the Assembly, through its lawyer, would take it upon itself to decide what’s sexual in nature.”

Fierro told the Bee he is now considering civil litigation against Garcia. He called the investigation a “terrible blow to victim’s rights” and questioned why Oppenheimer “didn’t take my word for truth” over Garcia, who was drunk at the time.

“It makes it clear that the Assembly is not interested in what the truth is and is not interested in finding out who their members are,” Fierro told the Bee.

It is unknown if the Assembly will investigate Garcia’s purchase of a 3,600 square foot home in Bell Gardens immediately after the 2012 primary, for only $170,000, nearly $500,000 below market value.

 

Part of the story was first reported by POLITICO but HMG-LCCN later found additional information on the transaction

 

DARK MONEY: 3,600 sq. ft. home ‘purchased’ by Asm. Cristina Garcia for $170,000 in 2012 is now worth over $1 million

 

 

 

 

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