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O.C. Assemblyman quits over sex comments

September 9, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Southern California lawmaker caught on tape bragging about an affair with a married lobbyist resigned on Wednesday. Assemblyman Mike Duvall, R-Yorba Linda, said his comments were inappropriate, and have become a distraction to his work and the work of his colleagues. He said it would not be fair to his family, constituents or friends to remain in office.

"I am deeply saddened that my inappropriate comments have become a major distraction for my colleagues in the Assembly, who are working hard on the very serious problems facing our state," he said. "Therefore, I have decided to resign my office, effective immediately, so that the Assembly can get back to work."

Duvall, who is married and has two adult children, had inadvertently talked about his extramarital affairs during a committee hearing break in July. He did not know that his microphone was on nor did he know that state cameras were rolling.

Wednesday morning was the last session Mike Duvall attended as an Assemblyman. The 54-year-old Orange County Republican resigned one day after a tape surfaced.

"I did speak with him and he was extremely remorseful and regretful," said Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles.

On the July 8 tape, Duvall goes into salacious detail about the two affairs.

One woman is a married lobbyist who works for Sempra Energy, a San Diego-based energy services company that operates San Diego Gas & Electric Co. and Southern California Gas Co. The utility company says it's investigating.

In the conversation caught on tape, Duvall marvels how she is nearly 20 years younger and how he likes to spank her during their trysts.

"I'm getting into spanking her," Duvall is heard to say on the videotape.

The other man asks if she likes it, too. Duvall responds: "She goes, 'I know you like spanking me.' I said, 'Yeah, that's 'cause you're such a bad girl."'

Duvall also talks about her "eyepatch underwear."

"And so, we had made love Wednesday... a lot."

He then goes on to say he joked with the lobbyist that she was getting old after turning 36 and told her, "I am going to have to trade you in."

The lawmaker then brags about an affair he is having with another woman.

"Oh, she is hot! I talked to her yesterday. She goes, 'So are we finished?' I go, 'No, we're not finished.' I go, 'You know about the other one, but she doesn't know about you!"' Duvall can be heard saying in an apparent reference to his affair with the lobbyist.

It was Assemblyman Jeff Miller, R-Corona, sitting next to him, listening to Duvall's conquests.

But Wednesday, Miller distanced himself from the scandal.

"I can't make any comment, you need to talk to Mr. Duvall," he said.

Duvall dodged reporters all day, going places in the Assembly where media isn't allowed. His office was unusually locked all day. He did not want to talk about the tape or his resignation.

Meanwhile, as lobbyists continue to cram the Capitol hallways, watchdog groups are appalled with the influence special interests still have despite classes and laws preventing such cozy relationships between lobbyists and politicians.

Lawmakers are considering numerous energy bills this session, and those watchdog groups say Duvall's views on energy do align with Sempra's.

"He took their side and it's that type of thing that's probably the most troubling -- it's not just the questionable ethical behavior, but it's the influence of special interests like Sempra Energy," Derek Cressman of California Common Cause said.

Duvall admitted Wednesday in a statement that he made a mistake and he apologized. Despite his resignation, an ethics committee will still look into the matter.

"We are taking this matter very seriously," said Bass. "It will be thoroughly investigated. The comments as I heard them were extremely inappropriate and we are doing everything that we believe is appropriate in this situation."

"Obviously we are very disappointed in some of the things that we've seen. We've issued a statement, and we're going to take the appropriate steps to get to the bottom of what's occurred," said Minority Leader Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo.

Sempra Energy says it also will be looking into any wrongdoing of one of its employees.

"The employee has denied the speculative media reports. Our investigation will be conducted to ensure not only that our policies on employee conduct are strictly adhered to, but also that our employee is treated fairly," the company said.

Gov. Schwarzenegger will have to call a special election to replace Duvall.

Assemblyman Duvall represented Orange County's 72nd Assembly District, including parts of Brea, Fullerton, Anaheim and Orange.

His constituents are very disturbed about the revelation. They said they considered him to be a great guy, and they never expected this.

"I was really shocked because this gentleman has been such a family man and claimed all these family values," said Jose Piaggio, a Brea businessman.

Piaggio operates a restaurant on the Brea Promenade, which houses the field office of Assemblyman Duvall.

Wednesday, shoppers were just learning about the legislator's resignation in disgrace.

"It is just a sad situation for the family," said Jamie Salazar, a La Mirada resident.

Salazar's first thoughts were for Duvall's family, saying that his admitted affair with two women dishonors his marriage.

"It's just that my heart is pounding right now just to hear that because as a married woman, I've been married for three years, and I don't think there is anything he could say to dampen the hurt that he has caused," she continued.

"We elect these leaders thinking that they are on the up and up," said Ruben Estrada, a Whittier resident. "Then they get into this hanky panky, and there is nothing you can do about it. I mean, they're already elected."

The scandal comes as voters are already wringing their hands over state furloughs, layoffs and the stalemate in Sacramento.

Still, some voters also had a measure of compassion.

"I feel sorry for him, you have to," said Mary Jo Lane, a Whittier resident. "I don't understand people like that, I really don't."

"Some time has to pass, and he really has to be genuinely sorry," commented Salazar.

"This is it for his career, probably. It is a very sad, terrible mistake," says Piaggio.

There is no word on when Duvall will be returning to clean out his Brea office. It is presumed he will be returning to private life.

He has an insurance agency business in Yorba Linda, where he also served several terms as a councilman and mayor.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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