The California Assembly agreed to pay $100,000 to a former legislative staff member to settle a claim of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation against former Assemblyman Steve Fox.
The Palmdale Democrat was elected in 2012 and only served one term. Nancy Kathleen Finnigan worked as Fox's legislative director for about five months. She alleged that in 2014 she was fired after complaining to the Assembly about Fox's inappropriate behavior, including that he exposed himself to her at his apartment.
In an interview Wednesday, she said her experience demonstrates how Sacramento covers up misconduct and tries to get women to not come forward:
“My story is a cautionary tale. I basically lost my career at the Capitol, and I lost most of my friends there.”
Finnigan claims Fox improperly required his staff to perform "personal tasks" for him during and after business hours. She also says he and his chief of staff, Ann Turtle, fostered an environment where she feared “for her safety and that of her co-workers.”
Finnigan also claims she was forced to give Fox "lessons on manners and etiquette." One time when Fox overslept for an Assembly floor session, she went to pick him up at his apartment.
She found him “with a shirt on, carrying his shoes and tie, but his pants were not zipped or buttoned.” He wasn't wearing any underwear and he exposed himself to her.
Fox continued to denied Finnigan's stories, and people laughed when she told them about the incident at his apartment.
Harassment claims are typically ended with taxpayer-funded settlements for the accusers. Over the last two decades, at least five cases have resulted in payouts totaling more than $850,000.
Can you believe that?! Our legislators hard at work.