SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The California Assembly said it will investigate a sexual misconduct allegation that a female lobbyist made Monday against a Democratic lawmaker, the latest claim against men in the Legislature and industries nationwide.
Assemblyman Matt Dababneh of Los Angeles denied the allegation from lobbyist Pamela Lopez. She accused him of following her into a bar bathroom, masturbating and asking him to touch her at a party for mutual friends in Las Vegas in January 2016.
She detailed the allegation at a press conference in the office of her lobbying firm, K Street Consulting, and in a letter to the Assembly committee tasked with handling misconduct complaints. She has no immediate plans to file a complaint with the police.
“I’m choosing to have hope that that process will work,” Lopez said. “I am putting this in the hands of the lawmakers who have told me they will act to protect me.”
Dababneh said Lopez is making the allegations “apparently for her own self-promotion” and he looks forward to clearing his name.
Patricia Glaser, an attorney for Dababneh, sent a cease-and-desist letter to Lopez on Friday and threatened to seek damages if she went public with her allegations.
Dababneh, 36, is the third sitting lawmaker to be investigated by the Legislature over sexual misconduct allegations since nearly 150 women at the Capitol came forward in October to allege pervasive harassment.
Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra resigned last week, and Sen. Tony Mendoza denies wrongdoing. Both are Los Angeles-area Democrats.
Dozens of politicians, Hollywood executives and actors, and media personalities across the country are facing sexual misconduct accusations, sparked by a wave of allegations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein.
Dababneh was elected to the Legislature in a 2013 special election after working for eight years as a district chief of staff and senior aide to U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman. He is the chairman of the Assembly’s Banking and Finance Committee.
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon has not yet commented on the allegations against Dababneh.