Calls mount for lawmaker accused of harassment to resign
The political group East County Rising has called for state Rep. Diego Hernandez to quit the legislature amid allegations of sexual harassment.
"We are calling on Rep. Hernandez to resign, as we do not believe he can adequately maintain his duties as an elected official," the group said in an email on Monday, Feb. 8.
A legislative committee voted Friday, Feb. 5, to recommend the expulsion of Hernandez (D-47) from the Oregon House on multiple violations of a rule barring sexual harassment. As of Monday morning, an expulsion vote had not yet been scheduled.
Three women have alleged Hernandez, 33, behaved inappropriately. The committee found his conduct violated the House rule 18 times and that his alleged sexual harassment created a hostile work environment.
A growing chorus of dozens of groups and individuals have called for the resignation of Hernandez, who represents East Multnomah County. Gov. Kate Brown, House Speaker Tina Kotek, Senate President Peter Courtney, the Oregon Education Association and others have all called on Hernandez to quit.
Noting that it "believes the survivors and stands with them," East County Rising said, "We feel he should take time to properly reflect and heal from the trauma he caused. Our hopes are that every survivor, and those whose trauma has resurfaced through this process, has the support and space to heal."
Hernandez also sits on the Reynolds School District board.
Reynolds issued a statement Tuesday, Feb. 9, that said "Based on the information available to the District, this investigation did not include any allegations related to Representative Hernandez's role as a District Board Member."
The district offered mental health supports for anyone experiencing pain and suffering as a result of the allegations.
Reynolds' statement did not call for his resignation or discipline from the school board or legislature.
Hernandez did not speak at the legislative committee hearing. His lawyer, Kevin Lafky of Salem, read a statement by him apologizing for making anyone uncomfortable. Hernandez denied touching anyone inappropriately and being a risk to anyone in the Capitol. Lafky said he and his client did not get fair consideration of evidence they presented to rebut the allegations, and they said some differed from what outside investigations included in their final report to the committee.
East County Rising said, "The recent investigation into Rep. Hernandez' interpersonal relationships with women has revealed serious and concerning behaviors that East County Rising cannot support."
The group said its mission "is to engage, energize, and elevate East Multnomah County by transforming governments to better reflect and represent East County's diverse and progressive community. This is why we support candidates who share our values, and this is why we supported Rep. Diego Hernandez in 2018 as one of our first ever endorsements," the group said.
East County Rising noted it appreciates the work "Hernandez has done for House District 47 and for East Multnomah County, and for his consulting advice in the initial formation of East County Rising."
Portland Tribune reporter Peter Wong contributed to this story.
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