The California Nurses Association is calling for the resignation of a GOP state senator following an altercation with the group's female lobbyist at a fundraising event earlier his month.
Stephanie Roberson, the association’s government relations director, filed a complaint with the state’s Senate Rules Committee claiming that state Sen. Joel Anderson (R) physically and verbally harassed her at a steakhouse earlier this month.
“Specifically, at that event, as witnessed by several people in attendance and restaurant staff, Sen. Anderson engaged in both physical and verbal acts of sexual harassment, that were followed by repeated threats of violence when Ms. Roberson objected to his behavior,” Bonnie Castillo, executive director of the California Nurses Association, said in a statement reported by the Sacramento Bee.
A spokesman for the restaurant told the Bee that a male patron was kicked out of the restaurant that evening after threatening to “strike a female patron.”
“This threat was observed by restaurant staff who immediately intervened and escorted the male out without further incident,” the spokesman said.
Other sources present at the event told the Bee that Anderson appeared to be intoxicated, and threatened to “bitch slap” Roberson more than once.
Anderson said in a statement that the incident was a “misunderstanding,” and that he would “welcome” an investigation by the Rules Committee.
“I have the utmost respect for Stephanie and I sincerely regret my word choice that was not directed at her,” he said.
A spokeswoman for California Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D) told the Bee that the Senate does not comment on complaints or investigations.
The lawmaker, who has reached his term limit, is running for a state Board of Equalization seat. The California Nurses Association is also requesting that he withdraw from that race, according to the Bee, and said they are exploring legal action.