SACRAMENTO, Calif. – An investigation released Tuesday found a California senator threatened to slap a lobbyist and rubbed her shoulders at a restaurant near the Capitol in August.
Republican Sen. Joel Anderson was reprimanded but did not face other discipline. The Legislature is not in session and Anderson is not seeking re-election but running for a state tax board.
“Your behavior was completely unacceptable,” Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins wrote Anderson in a Monday letter.
He is the latest California lawmaker to be hit with substantiated allegations of misconduct after a #MeToo reckoning hit the Capitol last fall. The Senate hired outside investigators to look into complaints.
California Nurses Association lobbyist Stephanie Roberson filed the complaint against Anderson in August after an encounter at The Diplomat restaurant across from the Capitol.
Anderson was “somewhat inebriated” when he rubbed Roberson’s shoulders for about 10 seconds uninvited and became agitated during a conversation about his relationship with the nurses association, according to the investigation. Anderson then said to Roberson that he ought to slap her, or “words very close to those words,” the investigation found. No witnesses said Anderson ever tried to physically hit her.
Anderson denied to investigators that he threatened to slap her. He told investigators he was describing how he is not as anti-union as he is perceived, calling it a real “slap.”
Four witnesses substantiated Roberson’s, not Anderson’s, version of events, according to the investigation.
Anderson was cooperative and, because he was drunk, “may not have appreciated the degree to which his words would be considered offensive,” according to the findings.
Roberson could not immediately be reached for comment.
Anderson said Tuesday he stands by his original statement made in August, when he said he regretted his word choice and said it was not directed at Roberson.