State Senator Tony Mendoza Forms Legal Defense Fund Amid Investigation Into Alleged Sexual Harassment

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For the second time in as many years, state Sen., Tony Mendoza filed papers Wednesday to open a legal defense fund, this time to raise money from political supporters to cover his legal expenses as he faces an investigation into allegations he sexually harassed three female aides.

Sen. Tony Mendoza is shown in a photo posted on his website in 2016.
Sen. Tony Mendoza is shown in a photo posted on his website in 2016.

“The senator is required to defend himself in administrative, senate and civil proceedings that are related to his conduct in office,” Mendoza’s filing says. “In or around December 2017, a former employee of the senate filed a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. In her DFEH complaint the former employee alleges she was terminated after reporting allegations that the senator had made a senate fellow feel uncomfortable.”

The filing notes that the employment department issued the employee a right to sue notice and the employee has since filed a claim for damages to the senate, a prerequisite to filing a civil action. It had not report any fundraising as of Wednesday.

The practice of allowing corporate interests and labor to make unlimited contributions to help legislators with legal problems is troubling to Kathay Feng, executive director of California Common Cause.

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