SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A former employee of Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia filed a complaint with the state Saturday, seeking to sue the Democrat for allegedly firing him after he refused to play “spin the bottle” with her.

In the complaint to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which was posted online Sunday by his lawyer, J. David Kernick of San Diego wrote that during his time as a field representative in 2014, Garcia was “very disparaging to the staff and others, used vulgar language, discussed topics inappropriate for the workplace and showed herself to be very vindictive in nature.”

It is the second accusation of sexual misconduct against Garcia, who is currently on a voluntary, unpaid leave of absence while the Assembly investigates claims that she drunkenly groped a former legislative staff member. In addition, a lawyer last week released a list of other allegations from four former employees in Garcia’s office who said they wished to remain anonymous.

In his complaint, Kernick wrote that Garcia was “seemingly not critical” of his work until “after he questioned the appropriateness of her suggestion that after a fundraiser at a whiskey bar” they “sit on the floor of her hotel room and play spin the bottle.”

He was disciplined with a “write up for insubordination,” Kernick wrote, and fired two days later. Garcia used this write-up to prevent him from finding further work in politics, he said.

Tim Reardon, who served as Garcia’s chief of staff in 2014, called the complaint a “complete falsehood.” He said Kernick was warned for not doing his job, was encouraged to do better and was fired when his work did not improve.


“If Mr. Kernick wants to talk about his time working there, then he ought to open up his own personnel records and let people see what was written in there,” Reardon said.

Reardon said he never received any formal or informal complaints about Garcia or the office environment during his time as chief of staff. He said he believes the allegations are part of a political attack against Garcia, though he does not know who is behind it.

“It’s like a malicious, really bizarre alternate universe built on a lot of innuendo and lies solely to destroy to character of Assemblywoman Garcia,” Reardon said. “That’s all that I can see.”

Another former staff member shared with The Bee a voicemail they received last week from a private investigator, asking to discuss their time working for Garcia.

Last week, four anonymous former Garcia staffers submitted a complaint to the Assembly through the same attorney as Kernick, describing a “toxic environment” of heavy drinking and graphic sexual discussions in her office. It also included at least one allegation of illegal activity: that Garcia sometimes directed her staff to perform campaign work, such as fundraising and donation request calls, on Assembly time.

During a news conference at the Capitol last week, San Diego attorney Dan Gilleon said his clients wanted to expose Garcia’s outspoken advocacy against sexual harassment at the Capitol as “phony.”

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