After Assembly GOP Leader Sam Blakeslee quickly moved to remove him from all positions of authority and legislative influence in the State Assembly, Republican Assemblyman Mike Duvall, caught in a sex scandal, abruptly resigned Wednesday from the Assembly.
Working with Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, Blakeslee wasted no time in deciding that in the best interests of both the citizens of California and the reputation of the California Republican Party, Duvall's comments and actions were simply intolerable.
"The statements he made were inappropriate and unacceptable. I have asked Mr. Duvall to step down from his post as a member of caucus leadership and I have requested that Speaker Bass remove Mr. Duvall as Vice Chairman of the Assembly Utilities and Commerce committee and as a member of the Assembly Rules Committee. This matter is currently under review by the Assembly Rules Committee and we are awaiting their findings."
Shortly afterwards, Duvall released this statement on his campaign web site: "I have come to the conclusion that it would not be fair to my family, my constituents or to my friends on both sides of the aisle to remain in office. Therefore, I have decided to resign my office, effective immediately..."
The action followed published and televised reports that Duvall had a sexual relationship with a female lobbyist. Earlier, Assembly leaders had removed him from the vice-chairmanship of the Utilities and Commerce Committee, his seat on the powerful Assembly Rules Committee and his ranking role in the GOP caucus.
The issue was first reported in the OC Weekly newspaper and by KCAL-TV in Los Angeles.
Duvall had been representing a district that includes Anaheim, Fullerton, Placentia, Orange, Brea, La Habra and Yorba Linda.
Duvall, 54, was caught on an open microphone prior to a July 8 Appropriations Committee hearing describing in detail his relationship with the lobbyist, 18 years his junior, as well as his relations with an another woman. The lobbyist worked for Sempra Energy. Both the lobbyist and Duvall are married. Duvall's words were audible and recorded by the Capitol's television system. In the videotaped sidebar discussion, Duvall offered clues as to the lobbyist's identity.
"And so her birthday was Monday," he said at the Wednesday, July 8 committee hearing. "I was 54 on June 14, so for a month, she was 19 years younger than me. I said, 'Now, you're getting old. I am going to have to trade you in.' And she goes, '[I'm] 36.' She is 18 years younger than me. And so I keep teasing her, and she goes, 'I know you French men. You divide your age by two and add seven, and if you're older than that, you dump us.'"
According to voter-registration records reviewed by and reported by Capitol Weekly, veteran Sacramento-based lobbyist Heidi DeJong Barsuglia turned 36 years old on Monday, July 6.
Duvall had been witnessed by many legislative sources socializing after-hours with Barsuglia. They also say they have seen Duvall with Barsuglia in restaurants, "arm-in-arm" at political fund-raising events and even shopping together for groceries just blocks from the capitol building.
Bass said she had "directed the Ethics Committee to look into the matter," and that the matter also was being reviewed by the Rules Committee.
Even before Duvall resigned, Orange County Republican Party Chairman Scott Baugh said he had seen the video, "and there's absolutely nothing you can defend in anything that was said by Assemblyman Duvall." He added: "My heart goes out to his family, but I think he should go home and consider resigning."
The Capitol Resource Institute, a conservative, self-described "pro-family" advocacy organization that had given Duvall a "100%" score for his voting record on issues of concern to the group, denounced the lawmaker in a statement today.
"It is always disappointing when a champion of traditional values does not practice the same in his private life," said Karen England, executive director of CRI. "And this appears to be the case with Assemblyman Duvall."
Amid the overwhelming evidence against him, Duvall eventually did the right thing by immediately tendering his resignation to allow the citizens of his district to move forward. Of course, the TRUE right thing would have been to never get involved in this kind of mess in the first place.
However, this examiner feels that the Assembly GOP Leader, Sam Blakeslee, as well as other conservative leaders cited, should be commended for taking immediate action rather than making legal or political arguments to stall what would most likely have been an inevitable removal.
If only all political leaders at all levels of government moved this fast to remove an obvious violator of the term "civil servant", maybe the approval ratings of these legislative bodies wouldn't be as far low as they currently are.
Thoughts to ponder for the state elections in 2010...
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