Dems’ Battle With ‘MeToo’ Costs Extends to California

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CARLSBAD, Calif. — Almost per week has handed for the reason that first of two sexual-assault costs surfaced towards Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, and nationwide Democratic leaders are nonetheless grappling with the right way to reply amid the fallout.

However that fallout isn’t restricted to the Outdated Dominion, nor to the 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls who have been fast to weigh in on the burgeoning scandal in Richmond. It has unfold from coast to coast and is now roiling the politics right here in Southern California as properly.

Over the weekend, requires Fairfax’s resignation continued to stream in, as did comparable calls for days earlier when a medical college yearbook surfaced with racist photos on the web page of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. Democrats have been fast to induce Northam to step down solely to be confronted with a dilemma when rape accusations from credible-sounding accusers have been leveled at Fairfax – the Democrat poised to take over from Northam. Some Democrats adhered to requirements they’d adopted in earlier instances – that’s to say, when Republicans have been accused – whereas others haven’t. California Sen. Kamala Harris, an introduced presidential aspirant, unequivocally urged the lieutenant governor to resign, as did her Senate colleague Kirsten Gillibrand, who can be contemplating a run for her social gathering’s 2020 nomination. Gillibrand termed the allegations “sickening and horrendous.”  

However a Democrat-led effort to question Fairfax over the allegations fizzled on Sunday night time when members of the Virginia Home of Delegates held a convention name wherein a number of members advised hitting the brakes on such an irreversible, career-ending transfer.

Late Monday, the fallout was nonetheless grabbing media consideration after a number of staffers for Fairfax — each in his lieutenant governor’s workplace and his “We Rise Collectively” political motion committee — resigned.

Many Republicans identified that the pleas for due course of – from Fairfax himself and his supporters — and towards a rush to judgment within the case echo the arguments outstanding GOP senators made only a few months in the past when attempting to cease Democrats from derailing the nomination of now-Supreme Courtroom Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh was going through even older sexual-assault allegations — that he tried to pressure himself on Christine Blasey Ford at a highschool social gathering 36 years in the past. The allegations towards Fairfax date again to 2000 when he was a scholar at Duke College and to the 2004 Democratic Nationwide Conference in Boston.

It’s not the primary time prior to now 12 months that Democrats have failed to carry certainly one of their very own to the identical #MeToo commonplace of believing the accuser they used towards Kavanaugh in a largely unified means.

For weeks, among the similar Democrats who strongly condemned Kavanaugh remained silent on domestic-abuse allegations towards Keith Ellison, the Minnesota congressman who received his race for state lawyer normal amid the controversy final fall.

After a stream of damaging media tales, the Democratic Nationwide Committee, the place Ellison was second in command, final 12 months introduced a assessment of the fees towards him. Many outstanding nationwide Democrats used the existence of the probe to keep away from answering whether or not they believed Ellison’s accuser.

In Minnesota final 12 months, the state was nonetheless reeling from the abrupt resignation of Democratic Sen. Al Franken in late 2017 after outstanding Democratic ladies, significantly Gillibrand, led requires him to resign. When it got here to Ellison, nonetheless, Gillibrand, Harris and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, one other 2020 contender, have been much more cautious about weighing in all through his lawyer normal marketing campaign – simply weeks earlier than sharply condemning Kavanaugh.

They and different Democrats who accused Republicans of whitewashing the Kavanaugh allegations even have but to touch upon an much more disturbing sexual misconduct allegation towards one other highly effective lawmaker.

Rep. Tony Cárdenas, a California Democrat who chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s BOLD PAC, is being sued in courtroom by a lady who claims he drugged and molested her when she was 16 and a rising golf star. Cardenas was a member of the Los Angeles Metropolis Council on the time of the alleged assault.

Despite the fact that Harris and Gillibrand have known as for Fairfax to resign, their workplaces didn’t reply to a RealClearPolitics inquiry concerning the allegations Cárdenas is going through and whether or not he ought to step down from BOLD PAC at the very least quickly whereas the go well with wends its means by courtroom.

A Los Angeles Superior Courtroom choose decided final fall that the fees have sufficient advantage to maneuver ahead and has set an August trial date. Final month, the girl suing Cárdenas recognized herself publicly for the primary time as 28-year-old Angela Villela Chavez. A rising teenage golf star on the time of the alleged assault, Chavez pressed Speaker Nancy Pelosi to make good on her name final Could for a Home Ethics Committee inquiry. Chavez, the daughter of a former longtime Cárdenas aide, stated she was impressed to come back ahead following Kavanaugh’s affirmation hearings.

“As members of Congress, we every have a accountability to uphold the integrity of the Home of Representatives, and any sort of alleged misconduct have to be investigated by the Ethics Committee,” Pelosi stated in an announcement 9 months in the past. “Congressman Cárdenas stated he’ll totally cooperate with an ethics investigation.”

However that investigation has not taken place.

Chavez says Cárdenas molested her in 2007 whereas driving her to the hospital after she collapsed whereas enjoying golf with the congressman, whom she had thought-about a mentor. In her lawsuit, Chavez says Cárdenas had given her water that “tasted distinctly completely different from each faucet and filtered water,” and she or he collapsed. She says he fondled her breasts and genitals as he took her to the hospital. Cárdenas has vigorously denied the allegations, accusing Chavez of in search of revenge for her father, whom he has characterised as a disgruntled former staffer. His lawyer issued an announcement arguing that the request for a Home ethics investigation exhibits that Chavez has a “meritless and weak case.”

Earlier than the allegations surfaced, Cárdenas was credited with increasing BOLD PAC’s fundraising totals from $1 million when he took over its management two years in the past to greater than $9 million this election cycle.

Media tales touting the four-term congressman’s vivid political future got here to a halt in late April when the girl filed go well with. Almost 10 months later, nonetheless, Cárdenas has gone on serving in Congress with none discernible consequence.

It was Cárdenas who led a broadly criticized congressional junket to Puerto Rico with greater than 100 lobbyists throughout the federal government shutdown in early January.

The occasion was organized by BOLD PAC, and Cárdenas was quoted defending the journey in information tales. Members of Congress and Democratic candidates that the PAC supported additionally attended at the very least one fundraising occasion with Cárdenas only a few months after the allegation towards him surfaced.

An Instagram picture montage of a July 18 fundraiser for BOLD PAC exhibits Cárdenas standing with a number of members of the Democrat-dominated Congressional Hispanic Caucus, together with Reps. Ruben Gallego of Arizona, and Nanette Barragan, Lucille Roybal-Allard, and Salud Carbajal, all of whom characterize California districts.

“Nice to spend a while with a number of members of the @hispaniccaucus @boldpac and may’t wait to welcome a number of members after the #bluewave in November,” wrote Cristina Antelo, who serves because the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute vice chair, on her Instagram account.

Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, a Democrat from New Mexico who final cycle chaired the Democratic Congressional Marketing campaign Committee, the social gathering’s marketing campaign arm, additionally was available. Lujan in late September tweeted his help for Blasey Ford’s choice to come back ahead with the allegations towards Kavanaugh.

Twenty-four Democratic lawmakers and candidates for Congress additionally accepted donations from BOLD PAC within the 2018 cycle, together with Kyrsten Sinema and Jacky Rosen, who received their campaigns to characterize Arizona and Nevada within the U.S. Senate, respectively.

In an e mail Monday to RCP, Chavez’s lawyer chided Home leaders for failing to comply with by with their promised probe.

“We completely consider that Congress ought to do what Rep. Pelosi stated they have been going to do: conduct an expeditious and thorough investigation into Ms. Chavez’s claims of sexual abuse towards Rep. Cárdenas,” Lynne Ciani, Chavez’s lawyer, stated in a prolonged assertion.

Ciani cited Chavez’s formal authorized grievance, relaying that she “gained braveness” to come back ahead together with her allegations of kid sexual abuse when she grew to become pregnant together with her daughter and she or he noticed different “courageous ladies coming ahead as a part of the #MeToo motion.”

Chavez, who filed a proper grievance towards Cárdenas with the Home Ethics Committee, additionally stated by her lawyer that she is “prepared, keen, and in a position to testify earlier than members of Congress if she is requested to take action in connection” with an investigation into her allegations towards the California lawmaker.

She additionally notes that Cárdenas himself in late 2017 known as for “expeditious investigations” into his former Democratic colleagues accused of sexual misconduct, together with former California Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra. On the time, Cárdenas known as the allegations towards Bocanegra “habits that’s unacceptable underneath any circumstance” and stated that “he ought to resign instantly if he’s discovered to be responsible.”

Six ladies accused Bocanegra of undesirable sexual advances; he stepped down within the fall of 2017. An Meeting investigation substantiated at the very least among the claims. Cárdenas and Bocanegra are each Democrats who characterize northeast San Fernando Valley and are longtime political allies.

Neither Pelosi’s workplace nor the Home Ethics Committee responded to requests for remark. Cárdenas’ congressional workplace and his attorneys additionally didn’t reply to inquiries.

New Mexico Democratic Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham is reported to have privately relayed considerations to Cárdenas concerning the lawsuit and allegations whereas she served as chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, though she has not requested him to step down from working the PAC. 

Lujan Grisham instructed Politico final Could that Cárdenas has “appropriately requested us to withhold judgment till there’s a full investigation of the information.”

“Congressman Cárdenas stated he’ll totally cooperate with an ethics investigation,” she continued. “I agree there ought to be a immediate investigation by the Home Ethics Committee.”

Susan Crabtree is a veteran Washington reporter who has spent twenty years overlaying the White Home and Congress.