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rodwright.jpgThe state Senate quietly approved a $120,000 taxpayer-funded settlement last year to resolve sexual harassment allegations made against Democratic Sen. Rod Wright by a former member of his staff.

The settlement agreement was reached after a private mediation between attorneys for the state Senate and former Wright aide Fahizah Alim in April 2010, Alim's attorney confirmed to the Bee.

Attorney John Poswall said Alim was reassigned to another Senate office after raising concerns about what he described as a "totally inappropriate" and "intolerable" work environment in early 2010.

"The environment in Sen. Roderick Wright's office is beyond anything anyone would expect of a public official or even any employer in the 20th century," Poswall said. "It is totally intolerable towards women and certainly black women."

Alim, a former Bee reporter who now works for Democratic Sen. Curren Price, has not responded to a request for comment. A spokeswoman for Wright declined to comment, as did a spokeswoman for Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg. Both cited private personnel issues.

News of the settlement became public for the first time this week after The Los Angeles Times reported that it had received the document as a result of a records request, as well as another one for a $89,500 settlement reached this year with a former aide to a different senator. That settlement does not name the alleged harasser or the type of harassment alleged.

Poswall said while the taxpayer-funded settlement is a public document, his client agreed not to seek publicity about the allegations or settlement, likening it to a confidentiality clause often included in settlements involving private employers.

Wright, who chairs the powerful Senate Governmental Organization Committee, has faced legal issues involving state election and residency laws in recent years. Prosecutors in Los Angeles allege that he lied about his residence when he ran for the 25th Senate District in 2008. He was indicted on charges of perjury and voter fraud last year. The case is ongoing in Los Angeles.

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Sen. Rod Wright indicted for allegedly living outside district

PHOTO CREDIT: Sen. Rod Wright, D-Inglewood, on August 20, 2009. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua



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