Lawmaker accused of firing aide who refused kissing game

Garcia has been a leader of the #MeToo movement and a fierce advocate for women's issues

Garcia has been a leader of the #MeToo movement and a fierce advocate for women's issues

Mr Kernick said in the complaint that Ms Garcia, who was featured in a Time magazine profile of #MeToo victims previous year, approached him at fundraiser at a whiskey bar and invited him to sit on her hotel room floor to play the kissing game.

The Cristina Garcia sexual-harassment scandal expanded when a former aide said the California assemblywoman suggested staffers join her in a game of "spin the bottle" and fired him after he complained.

In a November interview with the Associated Press news agency about alcohol at political fundraisers, Ms Garcia said that blaming drink is not an acceptable excuse for inappropriate sexual behaviour. He said Kernick was warned for not doing his job, was encouraged to do better and was sacked when his work did not improve.

Garcia has been a staunch advocate of the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct and has authored numerous bills created to address sexual assault.

According to Kernick's complaint, he alleged his performance as a field representative didn't garner any censure from the assemblywoman until "after he questioned the appropriateness of her suggestion that after a fundraiser at a whiskey bar", they "sit on the floor of her hotel room and play spin the bottle". Kernick said the write-up prevented him from finding another job in politics.

Christina Garcia, the former head of the California Legislative Women's Caucus and a leading figure in the anti-sexual harassment movement is facing fresh allegations of misconduct in her office just days after she took a leave of absence amid an investigation into alleged groping.

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

When asked about allegations of having a beer keg in her office, Garcia responded, "I think there's a lot of different offices up there that have alcohol in their offices, and we all partake in different ways and at different times". It also included at least one allegation of illegal activity: that Garcia sometimes directed her staff to perform campaign work, such as fundraising and donation request calls, on Assembly time. "I've never seen the member engage in the behavior listed in the letter by Mr. Gilleon", she said.

During a press conference at the Capitol on Wednesday, San Diego attorney Dan Gilleon said his clients wanted to expose Garcia's outspoken advocacy against sexual harassment at the Capitol as "phony".

She further wrote: "I will add that in order for legislators to accomplish all we want for the people of our districts and the people of California, we need talented staff who feel empowered to do their work ..."

It's been a quick fall from grace for a state lawmaker who was once a legislative leader in the #MeToo movement since a former staffer accused her of sexual impropriety.

But "I am confident that I consistently treated my staff fairly and respectfully", she said.

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