Sen. Carole Migden's Capitol staff members were sent home Thursday afternoon and told not to report to work on Friday, after the San Francisco Democrat was heard berating them from the hallway.
Enedina Hidalgo, the director of personnel for the state Senate, overheard Migden screaming, according to a witness to the event. The source said Hidalgo entered the office while the senator was not present on Thursday, informing the staff of their rights.
Soon after, Hidalgo returned to Migden's office with Tony Beard Jr., the chief sergeant-at-arms of the state Senate. They told the staff to pack up their belongings and escorted them out of the building, the witness said.
A spokeswoman for Migden, Tracy Fairchild, declined comment and referred all questions about the incident to the Senate Rules Committee.
Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, an Oakland Democrat and chair of the Rules Committee, declined to comment. Secretary of the Senate Greg Schmidt, the top aide to the Rules Committee, and Hidalgo also declined to comment.
When Sen. Carole Migden was directly asked about Thursday's events, Perata aide Lynda Gledhill sought to intervene, telling Migden she did not have to comment.
"They weren't sent home," Migden said of her staff, before walking away.
Late Thursday afternoon, the phones to the Migden's Capitol office went unanswered and mail had piled up by 4:45 p.m., stuffed under the locked office door.
On Friday, none of Migden's regular aides reported to work in the Capitol. Her office was staffed by temporary workers from the Senate Rules Committee.
Migden, known for her brusque attitude, is a 10-year veteran of the Capitol, having served six years in the Assembly and one term in the Senate.
Earlier this year, she lost a three-way Democratic primary to Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco. She was the first California legislator in a dozen years to lose a primary re-election contest.
"We need responsible representation," Leno said to a Marin audience during the campaign. He campaigned in part on character issues.
Migden suffered a bout of bad publicity during the campaign, especially surrounding an erratic 30-mile drive last May on Interstate 80 in which she careened off the center divider and later rear-ended a car with her state-owned SUV.
She later suggested that medicine she was taking for leukemia may have contributed to the episode.
A no-nonsense lawmaker, Migden admitted during the primary that her curt demeanor sometimes rubbed associates the wrong way. But she was unapologetic. "I make no apologies that sometimes it's a tough arena," she said at the time.
Migden will leave office at the end of November.
(Hat tip to Jon Fleischman, who first reported that the door to Migden's office was locked on Thursday)