SACRAMENTO--Freshmen legislators arriving in Sacramento receive advice from veteran
politicians about the intricacies of working in California's capital. One of those tips is to remember that microphones broadcasting legislative debates can also capture embarrassing, career-ending personal admissions if a politician isn't careful. Michael D. Duvall, Orange County's 72nd Assembly
District representative, must have forgotten the warning.
In July--two days after Assembly Speaker Karen Bass and Republican leader Sam Blakeslee put Duvall on the Rules Committee that oversees member ethics--the second-term, conservative, Republican assemblyman sat in a public hearing and vividly described lewd details about his trysts with a female lobbyist whose clients had business before another committee on which
Duvall, speaking to a relatively mum Republican colleague seated to his left, apparently had no idea his dais microphone became live beginning about a minute before the start of a cable-televised committee hearing. He was captured in the middle of recounting portions of an affair.
"She wears little eye-patch underwear," said Duvall, who is married with two children. "So, the other day she came here with her underwear, Thursday. And
so, we had made love Wednesday--a lot! And so she'll, she's all, 'I am going
up and down the stairs, and you're dripping out of me!' So messy!"
That line may quickly become part of colorful Sacramento political lore. In the meantime, it leads me to a question: Can someone please buy the assemblyman a box of condoms?
Duvall--who was twice a president of the Yorba Linda Chamber of Commerce, served two terms as mayor of Yorba Linda before entering the assembly in
2006, and is the owner of an insurance agency--continues his tale: "So, I am getting into spanking her. Yeah, I like it. I like spanking her. She goes, 'I know you like spanking me.' I said, 'Yeah! Because you're such a bad girl!'" He then laughed.
The assemblyman representing Anaheim, Fullerton, Placentia, Orange, Brea, La
Habra and Yorba Linda then offered clues to the identity of his sex partner.
"And so her birthday was Monday," he said at the Wednesday, July 8 committee hearing. "I was 54 on June 14, so for a month, she was 19 years younger than
me. I said, 'Now, you're getting old. I am going to have to trade you in.' And she goes, '[I'm] 36.' She is 18 years younger than me. And so I keep
teasing her, and she goes, 'I know you French men. You divide your age by
two and add seven, and if you're older than that, you dump us.'"
According to voter-registration records reviewed by the Weekly, veteran Sacramento-based lobbyist Heidi DeJong Barsuglia turned 36 years old on Monday, July 6. Legislative sources say they have witnessed Duvall, who is vice chairman of
the Assembly's powerful Committee on Utilities & Commerce, socializing after-hours with Barsuglia.
Sources--who asked for anonymity because of
Duvall's power in the capital--say Susan Duvall usually stays in Orange
County during the week, when her husband flies to Sacramento. They also say
they have seen Duvall with Barsuglia in restaurants, "arm-in-arm" at political fund-raising events and even shopping together for groceries just blocks from the capitol building.
"Their relationship is the worst-kept secret in Sacramento," a capitol staffer recently told me. "He's old and fat. She's hot, blonde and about 20
years younger. He could have never gotten a woman like that before he got
In April--two months after Duvall became vice chairman of the Utilities &
Commerce committee--privately owned California utility giant Sempra Energy hired Barsuglia as one of its top lobbyists, according to Secretary of State
Barsuglia, who has a law degree and once worked as a speechwriter for
Governor Pete Wilson, had previously worked at the California Retailers
Association (CRA). During 25 months of work at CRA, she reported that she incurred no reportable lobbying expenses. She joined Sempra after the
departure of another lobbyist: David Hayes, who was named deputy director of the Interior Department by President Barack Obama.
The San Diego-based utility conglomerate isn't shy about lobbying
lawmakers for favorable treatment. This session, they gave Duvall $1,500 in campaign contributions. In May, the assemblyman officially adopted the company's negative view on Assembly Bill 64, which proposes increasing the percentage of electricity the utilities must procure from environmentally
Repeatedly asked to explain his recorded sexual boasting, a red-faced Duvall fled me and another reporter, Dave Lopez of KCBS in Los Angeles, three times this afternoon in capitol hallways. He also ignored three handwritten interview requests that were delivered to him on the floor of the assembly. Said one assembly employee who witnessed the scene, "It definitely looks like he is afraid of you guys."
Barsuglia did not responded to a request for an interview made at Sempra's offices located across the street from the capitol building.
Sempra's 2008-2009 "Code of Business Conduct" states, "We've built [the company's] rich tradition because of the emphasis we place on ethical business conduct and compliance with the laws and regulations that govern
our business. We don't compromise on either for the sake of success"
But Duvall wasn't content to just share one adulterous tale at the July 8 committee hearing. He referenced a second, simultaneous affair with another woman. He seemed amused that he was cheating on both his wife and a mistress.
"Oh, yeah, Sher, Shar, Shar," Duvall said. "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 [Barsuglia], but she doesn't know about you!'"
The assemblyman punctuated his observation with laughter.
During his political career, Duvall has unabashedly espoused conservative
principles and is known as a partisan Republican with a knack for theatrics:
He has noisily driven his Harley-Davidson motorcycle to functions. In 2008,
Duvall blasted efforts to condone gay marriage. Legislatively, he has
proposed bills to aid the insurance industry and government contractors
feeding off the state's massive transportation kitty.
He has offered a law to alter the First Amendment rights of Americans by
banning anti-war activists from putting the names of fallen soldiers on
T-shirts with messages such as "Bush lied" on the front and "They died" on the back; he observed that the dead soldiers fought to protect freedom, and "opportunists" should not be allowed to "exploit" the sacrifices with political messages opposing war.
Such thinking impressed certain constituencies. Earlier this year, the man who never graduated from high school received "100 percent" approval scores
by the California Republican Assembly, the state's leading conservative outfit, and the Capitol Resource Institute (CRI), a fierce guardian of traditional family values.
"Assemblyman Duvall has been a consistent trooper for the conservative causes," CRI president Karen England announced in March. "For the last two years, he has voted time and time again to protect and preserve family values in California. We are grateful for his support of California
Acknowledging the CRI award, Duvall observed in a press release that as long as he is in office, he would work to protect "California families" from "constant assault in Sacramento."