California Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton) and her husband, Fullerton City Councilman Jesus Silva, allegedly tried to harm a Cerritos businessman’s public relations company after he accused Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Downey) of groping him.
But the representative of the 65th Assembly District–which includes Buena Park, Cypress, Fullerton, La Palma, Stanton and most of West Anaheim–vehemently denies the allegation against her.
“Any claim that I have retaliated against anyone is categorically false,” says Quirk-Silva in a statement. “I welcome a complete and thorough review of all evidence, or lack thereof, in this matter and pledge to fully cooperate and help in any manner I can.”
Quirk-Silva, her husband and Garcia are accused of trying to steer contracts away from Daniel Fierro’s Presidio Strategic Communications, a PR, marketing and public-affairs firm that serves public agencies, political candidates, private-sector businesses and advocacy groups.
It is alleged that Jesus Silva first contacted an Orange County businessman, who asked to remain anonymous, in an attempt to get him to fire Fierro. That was supposedly followed by a phone call from Quirk-Silva seeking the same and then an in-person meeting between the politician and the businessman.
Politico reported in February that Fierro claimed Garcia sexually assaulted him at a softball game in 2014, when he was a 25-year-old staffer to Assemblyman Ian Calderon (D-City of Industry). Fierro claimed he was cleaning up the dugout after the annual Assembly ballgame in Sacramento when Garcia, who appeared to be inebriated, cornered him, began stroking his back, squeezed his butt and tried to grab his crotch before he broke away and quickly left.
Fierro’s accusation was followed by a second from a man Politico identified only as a powerful Sacramento lobbyist who claimed Garcia, who again appeared to be under the influence, cornered him, made a graphic sexual proposal and tried to grab his crotch at a March 2017 fundraiser Gov. Jerry Brown hosted at a bar on behalf of state Sen. Josh Newman (D-Brea). (It wasn’t enough to prevent Newman from being recalled by voters three months later.)
Multiple past and current Garcia staffers then came forward to allege she led sexual games in the office and created a hostile work environment.
What is ironic is when the Fierro story first broke, Garcia was a nationally known champion of the #MeToo movement and chairwoman of the Legislative Women’s Caucus. She had told The New York Times that male lawmakers and senior lobbyists at the Capitol had repeatedly “grabbed my butt and grabbed my breasts.”
As for the allegations against her, the Democratic Party-controlled state Assembly launched an investigation earlier this year that prompted Garcia to take a break from her Assembly position. But the probe concluded Fierro’s complaint could not be substantiated, although Garcia was admonished for violating the lower house’s sexual harassment policy by “commonly and pervasively” using vulgar language in talking to her staff and disparaging other elected officials. (For instance, Garcia once called former Assembly Speaker John Perez, an openly gay Los Angeles Democrat, a “homo.”)
Garcia returned to the Assembly saying she had learned from her mistakes, but Fierro appealed the findings, and the investigation was reopened and is currently active.
That means the allegations against the Silvas could come into play despite any denials.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.