Misconduct Probe Nearing End for Artesia Senator

 ARTESIA (CNS) - The results of an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, were presented today to a Senate committee, which will decide next week whether it will recommend any disciplinary action.

According to a statement from the Senate Rules Committee, which met in closed session to hear the results of the probe conducted by a pair of law firms, the panel took the evidence under advisement and will meet Tuesday ``to finalize recommendations.''

``If disciplinary action is recommended, the facts and findings of the investigative report will be presented to both the Senate Democratic and Republican Caucuses on Wednesday, Feb. 21,'' according to the committee. ``If the Rules Committee recommends disciplinary action and a resolution is considered on the Senate floor, Senator Mendoza, who was afforded significant opportunity to present his position during the investigative process, will have the opportunity to contest the recommendation on the Senate floor.''

The development came one day after Mendoza announced he was suing the state over the Senate's refusal to allow him to return to work. He took a voluntary leave of absence in early January while the investigation was being conducted into alleged inappropriate behavior toward female interns, and into allegations that three of his staff members were fired for raising concerns about his conduct. His leave was expected to end Jan. 26, but when he tried to return to work, the Senate voted to extend his leave for another 60 days.

The lawsuit, filed in Sacramento, contends the Senate is conducting ``a secret and apparently unbounded investigation into the last decade of Sen. Tony Mendoza's career without notice specifying the charges against him, the scope of the investigation or the standards against which his conduct will be judged.''

The Rules Committee noted in its statement that suspending or expelling a sitting state senator requires a two-thirds vote of the Senate. Censure requires only a majority vote.

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