SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Mike Duvall's second term as a member of the California Assembly was progressing pretty much like his first — in relative obscurity, with few notable legislative accomplishments.
The Orange County Republican is now a YouTube hit after his racy comments about his sexual conquests were caught on an open microphone in a Capitol hearing room. He resigned Wednesday.
California's legislative leaders have been trying to focus on a number high-profile issues — from water policy to prisons to renewable energy — during the waning days of their legislative session. On Wednesday, they instead found themselves answering questions about a lawmaker who bragged about a spanking fetish, the type of underwear worn by a mistress and his apparent ability to carry on two extramarital affairs at once.
Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, called it "a very sad day."
"We have such big issues before the Legislature and to have this become a distraction, he felt his responsibility was to step aside," she said.
Duvall, 54, lives in Yorba Linda with his wife when he is not in Sacramento, and has two adult children.
He made the comments about the affairs to Assemblyman Jeff Miller during a break in a committee meeting inside the Capitol on July 8, apparently unaware that the microphone at the desk was on.
"I'm getting into spanking her," Duvall is heard saying on the videotape, which was made as a matter of routine by a legislative office.
Miller 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 describes the woman's "eye-patch underwear" and the age difference between himself and his mistress, identified in some media reports as a lobbyist for an energy company. He tells Miller, a fellow Republican from Corona, that the woman's birthday was two days earlier.
Duvall said he joked with the woman that she was getting old after turning 36 and told her, "I am going to have to trade you in."
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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.
The unseemly remarks also raise questions about the relationship between lawmakers and lobbyists. The Assembly Ethics Committee is investigating Duvall's comments, in part to determine whether the affair might have influenced his votes.
He was vice chairman of the Assembly Utilities Committee.
Several media outlets reported the woman Duvall refers to in his comments works as a lobbyist for Sempra Energy, a San Diego-based energy services company that operates San Diego Gas & Electric Co. and Southern California Gas Co. Sempra issued an e-mail statement saying it was investigating the claims.
"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.
Duvall was elected in 2006 to represent an Orange County district that includes Fullerton, Anaheim, Placentia, Orange, Brea and Yorba Linda. Before that, he served six years on the Yorba Linda City Council. He also owns an insurance agency.
In stepping down, Duvall 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."
The lawmaker had received a 100 percent rating from Capitol Resource Institute, a conservative advocacy group, for his votes on legislation considered pro-family during the 2007-08 legislative session.
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