"I can also say I have zero recollection of engaging in inappropriate behavior and such behavior is inconsistent with my values".
When the #MeToo movement sparked almost 150 women around the California state capitol to sign a letter declaring, "We Said Enough", Cristina Garcia added her's. Garcia said she's taking leave to avoid distractions and any appearance of influence over the investigation.
The lobbyist, who was not identified, told the news site that Garcia accosted him during a May 2017 fundraiser, made a foul-mouthed sexual advance and tried to grab his crotch. Garcia, who was allegedly inebriated at the time, stroked his back, massaged his buttocks and then attempted to put her hand towards his groin, prompting Fierro to leave.
The Assembly is now investigating Garcia.
Garcia had told The New York Times that she had been the victim of repeated sexual harassment by men in the California capital throughout her career in the legislature.
Garcia was elected in 2012 and has carved out a name as a champion of women's issues and environmental health for poor communities.
Garcia said she had chose to voluntarily take an unpaid leave of absence from the Assembly and her committee assignments, noting that she didn't wish to be "a distraction or in any way influence the process of this investigation".
Garcia has been a vocal supporter of the Me Too movement and was even included in the photo composite of Time's Persons of the Year issue as one of the "silence breakers".
In her latest post on Twitter, Garcia tried to explain the meaning of "consent". Jerry Brown on Monday giving legislative staff members whistleblower protections for reporting sexual misconduct or other misbehavior, speaking at a rally on the Capitol steps after its passage.
She was one of almost 150 women to sign an open letter in October calling out a pervasive culture of sexual harassment at the Capitol and said she herself has been the target of groping and inappropriate remarks by people in the building.
In January, Fierro mentioned the incident to Calderon.
About two dozen sexual harassment allegations were made against Assembly lawmakers, staff and lobbyists in 2017 - the most within a single year since 2006 - and at least eight allegations are pending, according to documents released last week.
Garcia also is a member of the Assembly Select Committee on Women in the Workplace.
Democratic Sen. Connie Leyva, co-chair of the women's caucus, said she was "shocked and disturbed" at the allegations and she will ask the group to meet soon to discuss Garcia's fate as leader.
In November, Garcia told the Associated Press in a story about sexual harassment at after-work political events that alcohol was no excuse for inappropriate behavior. "She looked at me for a second and said, 'I've set a goal for myself to f*** you'".
At that point, Garcia "stepped in front of me and reaches out and is grabbing for my crotch, " he said. "I think our public also expects us to hold ourselves to a higher standard".
"He was in shock, I was in shock - but the culture was very different back then", Shirinian told Politico.