Visalia Republican Devon Mathis was named Assembly minority whip on Tuesday, marking the 36-year-old legislator’s first appointment to his party’s leadership.
Mathis represents the 26th District, which includes all of Inyo County, most of Tulare County and a sliver of Kern County. Prior to being elected in 2014, Mathis served two tours in Iraq during his 10 years as a sergeant in the U.S. Army National Guard. He is a Fresno State graduate.
In his new role, Mathis will work to organize the caucus and shape leadership decisions in key areas.
“I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues from around the state to improve public safety, increase the supply of clean water for farms and families and ensure our veterans receive the care and support they have earned,” Mathis said.
The appointment comes after a tumultuous year for the assemblyman.
Sacramento police investigated Mathis in November 2017 after a blog post accused him of sexually assaulting an unconscious female Assembly staff member. The case was ultimately closed with no charges filed.
Shortly after the accusation became public, the Tulare County Republican Central Committee – which is backed by Rep. Devin Nunes and incoming House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy – passed a resolution asking Mathis to resign.
In May, his former district director sued Mathis, another staffer and the Assembly for what she called “severe sexual harassment and bullying.” That case is still working its way through the courts.
The Assembly Rules Committee found in July that Mathis had violated the Legislature’s sexual harassment policy by making explicit remarks in his office. He was ordered into counseling, sensitivity training and further anti-harassment tutorials.
Mathis has vehemently denied any sexual misconduct allegations, saying they were “politically motivated” attempts to smear him.
Local party leadership once again tried to oust Mathis this election cycle by throwing their support behind Visalia Mayor Warren Gubler, who failed to make it out of a closely contested primary in which just 1,400 votes separated the top three finishers.
Mathis easily defeated Democrat Jose Sigala, a Tulare city councilman, in the general election.