California Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) has been a staunch defender of victimized women and a leader of the #MeToo movement – her photo was even featured in Time Magazine’s Person of the Year issue, which credited her as one of the “Silence Breakers.” But Ms. Garcia might want to get her own house in order before she resumes railing against the patriarchy, as she now faces a couple of abuse allegations of her own.
Ms. Garcia was the head of the Legislative Women’s Caucus and a leading member of the Golden State’s anti-sexual harassment movement. But the irony of this case is that it was precisely her loud bemoaning of the evils of sexual exploitation that led former male staffer Daniel Fierro to come forward and share his story. According to Fierro, who worked in the office of Democratic Assemblyman Ian Calderon, an inebriated Cristina Garcia groped him in the dugout after a softball game in 2014.
The young staffer – he was 25 at the time – claims that he didn’t report it initially but that he told his former boss in January because of her outspokenness in the #MeToo movement. Mr. Fierro isn’t the only one accusing the champion of victims’ rights of sexual abuse. Politico reported Thursday that a lobbyist – who thus far has remained anonymous – claimed that Ms. Garcia drunkenly tried to grab his crotch at a political fundraiser in 2017.
According to Fox, Garcia’s first response was:
“Every complaint about sexual harassment should be taken seriously and I will participate fully in any investigation that takes place. I have zero recollection of engaging in inappropriate behavior and such behavior is inconsistent with my values.”
If the declaration that she has “zero recollection of engaging in inappropriate behavior” seems like a weak and unsure denial, she did later release a statement that surely alleviates all doubt. “Upon reflection of the details alleged, I am certain I did not engage in the behavior I am accused of,” she said.
In her defense, if she is indeed innocent, she does seem to be playing the situation exactly as she should. She has volunteered for an unpaid leave so that there can be no question of her using her power to influence the investigation, which she has pledged to cooperate with entirely. In fact, she is one of the few who has actually embraced the idea of being investigated. Both of these facts do seem to lend credibility to her denials.
However, while the unnamed lobbyist’s story can’t really be examined due to his anonymity, there is one solid bit of evidence in Fierro’s favor. Calderon’s communications director, Lerna Shirinian, said that Fierro told her about the incident immediately after it happened. “He was in shock, I was in shock – but the culture was very different back then,” she told Politico. It’s difficult to write Fierro’s story off as a mere attempt at political character assassination, as he, his former boss, and the woman who backs his story all work for the same party in the same state.
Oh, the Hypocrisy!
While the recent storm of sexual abuse allegations has pounded both sides of the aisle, it is left who seems to have had a very special brand of hypocrisy uncovered by all this. From D.C. to Hollywood, influential leftists who claimed to champion women’s rights have been accused – quite credibly in some cases – of sexual harassment, assault, and rape. Big-shot producer Harvey Weinstein supported Planned Parenthood and Hillary Clinton – and allegedly abused 84 women in a variety of ways, including forcing them to engage in sexual acts. Al Franken (D-MN) has claimed to be an ally of women and even wrote a bill in 2016 to in support of rape survivors. Then sexual assault claims against him surfaced – including one with photographic evidence.
According to both of her accusers, Ms. Garcia was drunk for each incident. However, as Ms. Garcia herself has pointed out in the past, that’s no excuse. During an interview last November with Politico, Garcia said that blaming alcohol wasn’t acceptable, as it’s men who choose to misbehave, not the social events themselves. “I would say that most of the public realizes that our job is based on relationships, and so we are expected to go out there and socialize,” she said. “I think our public also expects us to hold ourselves to a higher standard.”
A higher standard indeed, Ms. Assemblywoman. Her statement is correct, but it’s meaningless when not backed up by action. Time – and the investigation – will tell whether Cristina Garcia is a worthy leader of the #MeToo movement – or if this is just another case of the guilty dog barking the loudest.