Shortly after two lawmakers successfully passed legislation meant to boost the strength of investigations at the California legislature into sexual assault claims, the pair also made political donations to a fellow assemblywoman who was still under investigation for an allegation of sexual assault.
Campaign finance disclosures show Assemblywomen Laura Friedman and Holly Mitchell, both Democrats, each gave $2,500 to the reelection campaign for fellow lawmaker Cristina Garcia just days after Gov. Jerry Brown (D.) signed a bill into law in reaction to the #MeToo movement. Friedman and Mitchell were the chair and vice-chair, respectively, of a newly created Joint Legislative Subcommittee on Sexual Harassment Prevention and Response, which created the bill, according to a report from Politico.
Garcia, also a Democrat, became controversial in the emergence of the #MeToo movement after she was on the cover of Time Magazine in December of 2017, heralded as one of the groundbreaking voices behind the social uprising against a culture of silence regarding sexual assault and misconduct, only to have the tables turn on her.
Daniel Fierro, one of Garcia's former staffers, accused her of groping him at a 2014 softball game at which alcohol was also said to have played a factor.
At the time of the donations by Friedman and Mitchell, Garcia remained under investigation because the original case against her had been reopened after Fierro successfully appealed the closing of the original inquiry, arguing some of the key witnesses had not been interviewed.
"I donated to her because she was very helpful to me…and she asked me for a contribution," Friedman told Politico.
"If the charges are substantiated, that would be horrible and unfortunate and until the investigation is closed, it's really hard to say whether I would regret having donated to her. I hope she gets closure on it," Friedman added later.
Mitchell did not respond to Politico's requests for comments.
Fierro, meanwhile, blasted the donations.
"How can you give somebody money and say, ‘Well, we're being impartial?" he said. "You can't tell me you're letting the process takes its course—and at the same time write a $2000 check to her."
Fierro is not alone in accusations of groping by Garcia.
Politico also reported in 2018 that a lobbyist for a major industry association made similar allegations, but would not bring his name forward out of fear of reprisals.