SACRAMENTO, Calif. — An energy lobbyist who was the subject of an investigation after a former California lawmaker was caught on tape bragging about having sex with her is denying the relationship and has been reinstated to her job.
In a statement released Monday, Sempra Energy lobbyist Heidi Barsuglia called the scandal surrounding former Assemblyman Mike Duvall's comments "a professional and personal nightmare." She denied engaging in any kind of illegal or unethical behavior.
Her attorney, Malcolm Segal, added: "Just so there is no doubt left in anyone's mind, what Mr. Duvall later called 'inappropriate storytelling' was just a plain old-fashioned lie. Mrs. Barsuglia is considering all of her legal remedies."
Duvall, a 54-year-old married father of two, was recorded last July during a break in a committee hearing telling another lawmaker about his extramarital exploits with two lobbyists.
Legislative committee hearings are videotaped as a matter of practice, and Duvall apparently was unaware his microphone was on.
He could be heard on the tape describing in lurid detail his sexual conquests, including a spanking fetish, the skimpy, "eyepatch" underwear of one woman and his carrying on two affairs simultaneously.
Duvall, a lawmaker from Yorba Linda known for promoting family value issues, resigned the day after the tapes became public in September, saying he did not want to distract the Legislature. He said his only offense "was engaging in inappropriate storytelling."
The statement from the Sempra Energy lobbyist came as the FBI announced it was ending its investigation into Duvall's alleged relationships. The state attorney general, California Fair Political Practices Commission and Assembly Ethics Committee also have declined to investigate.
Sempra said Barsuglia, 39, is being taken off leave and will be fully reinstated. The company said its internal personnel investigation is closed.
"The company does not tolerate the type of behavior alleged in the media reports," the company said in a statement.
Barsuglia's attorney said Duvall's comments defamed her and that he did little to repair the damage after they were made public.
"Her reputation, her job, and her exemplary career have all been placed in jeopardy by Duvall's disgusting remarks," Segal said.
Duvall did not immediately return a telephone message left Monday at his Farmers Insurance office in Yorba Linda.