SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Legislature has paid out at least $580,000 in settlement money to employees and news organizations since Jan. 1, 2012, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request.
The following payments were made:
— $110,000 to former Assembly staff member Kristina Zahn and her lawyers to settle claims against former Democratic Assemblyman Steve Fox. Zahn claimed in a lawsuit that she was forced to do unpaid work for Fox’s law firm, the Sacramento Bee reported.
— $100,000 to Nancy Finnigan, another former Fox staffer, who alleged she was fired after reporting inappropriate behavior by Fox, including exposing himself to her
— About $44,500 to Anita Belmontes, a former employee for Senate Human Resources. Belmontes was transferred to work for the Senate Republican Caucus and given back more than 1,500 hours in sick leave and vacation time she used between March and November 2014
— $85,400 to Dina Hidalgo, the former head of Senate Human Resources, and her attorney, as part of a separation agreement following an investigation into nepotism by Hidalgo
— $89,500 to Douglas Miller, a former staff member for Republican Sen. Tom Berryhill. Miller filed a lawsuit claiming the Berryhill’s Modesto district office was rife with racist and sexist comments. He was fired after an investigation into an office argument about Colin Kaepernick, then a San Francisco 49ers quarterback, the Bee reported. Berryhill was not named as a defendant.
— $150,000 to several news organizations including the Bay Area News Group to cover attorney fees in a dispute over the release of calendars from former Sens. Ron Calderone and Leland Yee, who were federally indicted.
— $3,500 to former Senate employee Morgan Hunter. No further details were disclosed.