Embattled California Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia returned to the Assembly floor Friday for the first time since an investigation found allegations she groped a male staffer unsubstantiated.
The Los Angeles-area Democrat was hugged by a few Democratic lawmakers after she entered the chamber, including Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, and Assemblywoman Eloise Gomez Reyes, D-Grand Terrace.
She was also greeted by other members of the Assembly, including Republican Leader Brian Dahle, who represents a rural Northern California district. Meanwhile in the gallery overlooking the chamber where members of the public sit, some women affiliated with an effort to oust Garcia wore shirts that spelled "RESIGN."
Garcia took a three-month leave of absence after the groping allegation and other claims of inappropriate behavior surfaced. Outside investigators cleared her of the groping claim but found she used vulgar language in violation of the Assembly's sexual harassment policy.
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, a Los Angeles-area Democrat, has stripped Garcia of her committee assignments and is requiring Garcia to attend sensitivity training and a session about sexual harassment policy.
She is running for re-election in the June 5 primary, where she faces multiple Democratic challengers. The State Building and Construction Trades Council is leading an effort to oust her, which includes television ads highlighting the misconduct claims. Various unions have contributed more than $500,000.
The protest was organized by the building trades group.