Capitol Weekly Podcast: DearCAStaffers has the Capitol Captivated

California legislative staff – and many of their bosses – are enthralled by a new Instagram account devoted to sharing anonymous stories detailing alleged misbehavior by legislators, senior staff and others in authority in the Capitol and district offices. Taking inspiration from DC’s @Dear_White_Staffers Instagram account, @DearCAStaffers launched last week and quickly took Sacramento by storm; the account had garnered over 3000 followers by Friday.

The anonymous host of the account claims to be a former legislative staffer, with the stated goal “to shed light on what it’s like working in the CA State Legislature and to bring change.” The response was nearly immediate, with the first anonymously-submitted stories being posted shortly after the account went public. New flurries of reports are being shared daily on a variety of topics.

The grievances range from complaints about poor pay and boorish behavior, to sexual harassment and other criminal acts. Many readers agree that most of the anonymous posts have the ring of truth – others question the motives behind the account’s host and the veracity of the anonymous stories. Whatever the source, whatever the percentage of fact vs. fiction, there is no dispute that the account has disrupted business as usual at the Capitol.

No one has more experience with anonymous stories of poor behavior at the Capitol than today’s guest, Samantha Corbin of Corbin and Kaiser. Corbin was one of the leaders of the WeSaidEnough movement that galvanized women in the Capitol community against sexual harassment. The movement ultimately unseated two legislators for sexual misconduct. Following the launch of WeSaidEnough, Corbin helped create an online reporting portal that allows victims of sexual harassment and other misbehavior to anonymously document their experiences, creating a record of the incident in real time.

We asked Corbin to share her thoughts about DearCAStaffers and talk about what can be done to protect the capitol’s At-Will employees from abusive behavior.

Episode Notes

:30 Is there a connection between WeSaidEnough and DearCAStaffers?

3:24 Are the comments from DCS similar to the stories from WSE?

4:50 The format of DearCAStaffers

6:26 Who is behind the account?

7:42 There are a slew of these accounts across the US – are they coordinated?

9:19 “Festivus for the Capitol Community”

11:40 What legal exposure does DCS have?

15:11 The format is new, but these types of complaints are nearly as old as the legislature itself

17:11 How does the official grievance process work?

20:30 What is the solution for protecting legislative employees? Unionization?

22:38 Do we need a ballot measure to fix this?

27:00 What’s the future of DCA?

28:36 The #WorstWeekCA


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