A San Diego-area state senator in California threatened to "b---- slap" a female lobbyist and rubbed her shoulders uninvited at a restaurant near the Capitol in Sacramento last month, an investigation released Tuesday found.
Sen. Joel Anderson, R-Alpine, was repriminanded by the Senate this week after a review of his interaction with lobbyist Stephanie Roberson of the California Nurses Association, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
The Senate Rules Committee found that Anderson violated the Senate Code of Conduct, the Union-Tribune reported.
“Your behavior was completely unacceptable,” Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins wrote in the letter of reprimand, according to the Sacramento Bee. “The Rules Committee instructs you to interact in a professional manner going forward.”
Roberson filed a complaint in August alleging that Anderson rubbed her shoulders for about 10 seconds uninvited and "likely unwelcome," according to the investigation, which found that the lawmaker was "somewhat inebriated" at the time.
Anderson then became agitated during a conversation about his relationship with the nurses association, and told Roberson at least twice 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 that 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.
Bonnie Castillo, executive director of the nurses' union, told the Times that it was "shocking" that Anderson's behavior was "still part of the status quo."
“Hopefully this incident serves as another wake-up call on how much more still has to be done to end the all-too-routine sexual harassment and abuse that stains our politics and other areas of life,” she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.