An investigator hired by Orange County today began interviews in what is expected to be a quick probe into sexual harassment allegations leveled against Santa Ana Councilman and county public works executive Carlos Bustamante.
Several women are already talking to the investigator. The feeling among senior officials in the county administration is that Bustamante will not return to work for the county, according to sources close to the investigation.
Bustamante, who is a married father of three, could not be immediately reached for comment.
Bustamante, who first began working at the county in 2000, was placed on administrative leave this week after county officials received what they considered credible reports that he was talking to potential female witnesses in the probe, sources confirmed Friday.
The probe could be over within a week, sources say, because numerous women have already talked to the investigator and confirmed an array of complaints against Bustamante.
The initial inquiry into Bustamante’s behavior was prompted by an anonymous letter to county officials received after a female employee allegedly walked in on Bustamante and another female employee having sexual relations in a conference room.
The letter, first disclosed by the Orange County Register Thursday, also leveled allegations at Bustamante about sexual harassment and questionable promotions in the public works department.
Bustamante, a rarity in Orange County Hispanic politics because he is a registered Republican, has long been a darling of the local GOP and at one point ran a brief and ultimately unsuccessful campaign for county supervisor.
He quietly resigned from two state commissions in 2008 after making disparaging remarks to a Los Angeles Times reporter about the selection of Sandra Hutchens as Orange County sheriff. Bustamante said that then Santa Ana Police Chief Paul Walters, who was vying for the job, should have worn a water bra because county supervisors wanted to appoint a woman.
Earlier this year, Bustamante also was highlighted as one of many top-tier executives who received questionable raises from the Human Resources Department.
— NORBERTO SANTANA JR.
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