Are we witnessing the collapse of journalism?
A recording surfaced in 2009 in which then-Assemblyman Mike Duvall (R-Yorba Linda) is heard bragging about extramarital escapades with two women on an open microphone in an Assembly Committee hearing. Duvall, married and a father, immediately resigned from his position.
Nowhere in the media was there an explanation about why the microphone was hot, because prior to Capitol committee hearings officially being started by the committee chairman, microphones are always off. Except in this rare case.
Back in 2009, current Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon was an Assemblyman, and a member of the committee in which Duvall was on. A person present at the hearing that day in 2009 recently told me that Kevin de Leon knew what Duvall was talking about and ordered the Sergeant to make the microphone live so everyone could listen in. And this person knows because he says de Leon bragged about what he did to several guys standing nearby, including some members of the Capitol media.
This is fascinating for many reasons. First, what Kevin de Leon did is a total dick move (pardon my French), for de Leon to do this to a colleague – even one from the other side of the aisle. Was this a stupid prank by de Leon or something more heinous? And why didn’t anyone of the media people present expose de Leon’s dick move?
SACRAMENTO, CA – MARCH 19: California Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de Leon (C) speaks as Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (L) and Sen. Bob Huff (R) (R-Diamond Bar) look on during a news conference to announce emergency drought legislation on March 19, 2015 in Sacramento, California. As California enters its fourth year of severe drought, California Gov. Jerry Brown joined Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de Leon, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, Republican Leaders Senator Bob Huff and Assemblymember Kristin Olsen to announce emergency legislation that aims to assist local communities that are struggling with devastating drought. The $1 billion package is designed to expedite bond funding to help ensure that all Californians have access to local water supplies. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Assemblyman Duvall resigned, even though the relationship he was in was consensual — stupid, unethical, and dubious, but consensual. However, a consensual sexual relationship like Duvall’s between Capitol colleagues, is a far cry from forced sexual hugs, groping, grabbing and rubbing, as Assemblywoman Linda Halderman endured at the hands (very busy hands) of former Assembly Speaker, now Senator Bob Hertzberg.
A friend recently asked, “When money is the mother’s milk of politics, should we really be surprised when the teat-grabbing goes on?” A bit crass, I know, but read on.
Media Hypocrisy… Again
I am quite interested in media reactions. The Sacramento Bee editorial Board relished the Republican Duvall affair, exploited it and pounced on it like a hungry tiger on a lame jack rabbit, calling for the FBI to investigate, with righteous indignation, for “political favors and the potential for such favors to be doled out.”
I don’t ever remember the Sacramento Bee Editorial Board calling for investigations of Democrats “political favors and the potential for such favors to be doled out” when caught in compromising affairs of the heart. And there are so many to choose from. “If you can put aside the puerile aspects of Duvall’s bragging, there’s a legitimate question of whether his self-reported relationships with lobbyists influenced any legislation or budget matters,” the Sacramento Bee editorial Board said.
This is the same Editorial Board that called Democrat Sen. Bob Hertzberg “decent,” even after former Assemblywoman Linda Halderman, a Republican, accused Hertzberg of “wrapping his arms around my torso and rubbing his chest and lower body against mine in a prolonged embrace.”
“There is a difference, for example, between being ‘hugged too long’ – a charge, published first by a partisan Republican blog, leveled last week at Democratic Sen. Bob Hertzberg…” the Bee editors wrote.
“Hugged too long.” Assemblywoman Halderman said, “Hertzberg physically accosted me multiple times. I repeatedly asked him not to hug me.”
Yet the Sacramento Bee Editorial Board dismissed Halderman’s account, and but opined on the consensual Duvall case in 2009: “Yet whether or not the FBI pursues this case, it doesn’t absolve the Assembly from conducting its own inquiry, within the bounds of its legislative jurisdiction,” the Bee editorial Board said. “This issue is not about sex. It isn’t about peccadillos. It is about political favors and the potential for such favors to be doled out, year after year, when the Legislature fails to police itself,” the righteous Bee editors added.
Pot, Meet Kettle
De Leon claims there will be a “new standard” in the Senate along the lines of Vice President Mike Pence’s who does not hold business meetings over meals with women unless his wife is present. Is there any wonder why? But de Leon’s “new standard” is just a retread of old leftist dogma. Blah. Blah. Blah. The rules and ethics already exist, should anyone choose to live by them.
Why would a lobbyist and lawmaker meet at a cocktail lounge after work hours, rather than have an office meeting, with a staffer present if there is nothing going on other than business? There is already a mechanism for lawmakers and lobbyists to meet in public and socialize – fundraisers. The booze and hors d’oeuvres flow, and socializing is abundant. Extracurricular private events are arranged for only one thing – extracurricular activities.
This so-called “new standard” is pure BS and only being trotted out to protect the Duvall, Dababneh, Mendoza, Bocanegra behavior. And there are more to come.
Human Resource laws, imposed by this Legislature and Congress on businesses, have been in place long before the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas accusations, or former President Bill Clinton’s well-publicized affairs. The California Legislature has chosen to ignore the laws they impose on others. “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
The Sacramento Bee editors twisted themselves into pretzels when they said, “Hertzberg is as known for his decency, his serious policy ideas and his lack of scandal as for his habit of hugging rather than offering handshakes,” about Linda Halderman’s accusations against Hertzberg. “Here as nationally, partisans and cynics are realizing the potential for the #MeToo wave to be hijacked for political ends. There’s a risk that dubious claims and farfetched smears will be lumped in with demonstrably illegal abuses of power. That turn of events threatens to trivialize a real problem and real violations.”
Yet, in the Republican Duvall’s case, the Bee editorial Board asked at the time, “Could the Assembly review past legislation or laws that might have been influenced by a past member’s relationship with lobbyists?”
The biased news coverage will not hurt a cause that they personally believe in – liberalism and leftism, and covering for Democrats.
Remember my previous article in which I recount former Capitol Sergeant Lydia Sims who filed suit in December 1987 against the California State Assembly and Willie L. Pelote Sr., then the assistant sergeant-at-arms,” the Bee reported. Sims stated in a lawsuit, Pelote “exposed himself” to her and “repeatedly made lewd and obscene references to her.”
Sims was banished from the Capitol, and Pelote got a promotion as an aide to former Democrat Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, and then moved to mega-labor union AFSCME, and eventually a fat pension.
Sen. Toni Atkins
However, it gets worse… the pension Pelote receives was deliberately spiked in later years thanks to then-Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (D), and with the approval of Democrat then-Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D). Why?
Atkins is now the Senate President Pro Tem elect. Gomez won a special congressional election in June. Gomez hired Pelote back to the Assembly as his senior staffer in 2015, “in a lucrative job and was paid $150,000 annually, among the highest of the entire Assembly staff,” according to the Bee. That’s a monthly salary of $12,500, which was bumped to spike his state pension. Pelote was hired back despite the accusations, lawsuit and payout to Sims. No Human Resource executive in the country would have authorized that re-hiring. But the California State Legislature did.
Current labor laws indicate the Assembly Rules Committee and Assembly Human Resources should have blocked Pelote’s hire in 2015 due to the prior settlement.
Where is the Sacramento Bee investigation into the Gomez/Atkins scheme with Pelote? They did a story on it, but no righteous editorial about the flagrant ethics violations.
As I wrote in a recent article, We All Get Screwed in Capitol Affairs. As author Camille Paglia says, “Democrats are colluding with the media to create chaos.”
Political Journalist, Saucy Cynic, Quintessential Analyst. Never a Stenographer. Katy Grimes is a longtime political journalist, analyst and writer. As a credentialed Capitol reporter, Senior Correspondent for the Flash Report, and Senior Media Fellow with E&E Legal, Katy covers the California Legislature and state agency politics from the State Capitol. A California native, Katy lives in Sacramento with her husband Terry. Her son is a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, now a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. 916.417.6780