Politics

Tony Mendoza can't return to work yet

A 2016 file photo of the California state Capitol in Sacramento.
A 2016 file photo of the California state Capitol in Sacramento.
Rich Pedroncelli/AP

A California lawmaker who took a paid leave of absence until the end of the month won't be allowed to return while investigators look into allegations that he acted inappropriately toward young women working in his office.

Democratic Sen. Tony Mendoza of Artesia had planned to return to work next week despite the ongoing investigation. He has refused demands by many of his colleagues to resign but agreed earlier in January to take a leave of absence.

A Senate panel on Thursday extended his suspension for 60 more days or until the investigation concludes. The committee also restricted his access to the Capitol and legislative resources.

Three young women who worked for Mendoza say he behaved inappropriately toward them, including offering a young woman staff member alcohol when she was underage and inviting another to his Sacramento home. One of his former staff members has filed a formal complaint with the state alleging she was fired for reporting the behavior.

Mendoza has denied wrongdoing and didn't immediately comment.

Republican Sen. Joel Anderson of Alpine says the full Senate, not the committee, should have voted on suspension.