Update: Rules Committee has no documents to release for harassment claims; investigation ongoing

Assemblyman Dante Acosta (left) and Senator Scott Wilk (right) make opening remarks at a joint public forum last March.

Update adds on-the-record statement from Jennifer Van Laar

The Assembly Rules Committee said late Friday that there was no record to date of well-founded allegations against two of Santa Clarita’s legislative representatives in Sacramento by a former campaign consultant that alleged the representatives “used Assembly resources to attempt to harass and intimidate” her.

The letter came after The Signal had asked the committee last month whether Jennifer Van Laar filed a formal complaint against Assemblyman Dante Acosta and state Senator Scott Wilk, whether they had been notified that a complaint was filed against them and for a copy of the complaint.

“The Assembly has decided, as a matter of policy, to release documents related to substantiated sexual harassment allegations against an Assemblymember if discipline has been imposed or the allegations have been determined to be well-founded. However, we have no records of complaints that meet the above criteria,” the committee’s Chief Administrative Officer Debra Gravert wrote. “Accordingly, we are not providing any documents in response to your request.”

In response to the letter from the Rules Committee, Van Laar issued the following statement to The Signal on Sunday:

“There is an ongoing investigation into the complaint I filed with the Assembly Rules Committee in December 2017. It has not been concluded. I have spoken with the investigator in recent days and have been instructed to not comment on the matter.”

Acosta claimed the letter from the Rules Committee proves what he’s known “all along.”

“I am glad that a thorough investigation has determined what I have known all along,” Acosta said in a statement. “Workplace bullying and sexual harassment are serious problems, and I am working to address them in Sacramento.”

Calls to Wilk were not returned late Friday.

The letter came a week and a half after The Talk of Santa Clarita podcast host Stephen Daniels published an interview with Van Laar, a senior contributor for conservative website RedState, because Van Laar filed the formal complaint with the Assembly’s Rules Committee in December.

“I am writing to report that Assemblyman Dante Acosta improperly used Assembly resources to attempt to harass and intimidate me in February 2017, while a defamation suit I filed against him was pending,” Van Laar wrote in the complaint. “In addition, he participated in a coordinated effort with (state) Senator Scott Wilk and others to defame me and destroy my career.”

The complaint also accused Wilk and Acosta of coordinating to defame her after the 2016 election. The Signal could not independently verify Van Laar’s claims.

Wilk told a political blog he and Acosta didn’t collaborate or discuss retaliating against Van Laar. Wilk also denied tampering with the business contracts of Van Laar’s business partner.

The podcast sparked its own controversy after Daniels received private messages he perceived to be threatening, including one message from an individual claiming he could “cold cock” Daniels.

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