PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — One day after he was ordered not to have any contact with seven women during an investigation into sexual harassment in the legislature, State Rep. Diego Hernandez told KOIN 6 News he’s the target of “an organized campaign” to remove him from office.
Hernandez, a two-term Democrat from Portland, said he has “no idea what the concerns raised are or by whom.”
The House Committee on Conduct approved the no-contact order as one of two interim measures affecting Hernandez, who took a leave of absence from his legislative duties in early April after the Willamette Week reported he was the subject of a restraining order alleging violent behavior while drunk.
The order, sought March 3 by Andrea Valderrama, the chair of the David Douglas School Board, was lifted on March 25.
Speaker of the House Tina Kotek said in a statement on her official website that she supported Hernandez’s leave of absence in April “to seek guidance and focus on his physical and emotional health,” and removed his committee assignments to facilitate that leave.
“The House Conduct Committee’s action today is a very serious development. I
believe Rep. Hernandez should resign from the Legislature and focus completely on
getting the support he needs.”
In his statement to KOIN 6 News, Hernandez said:
“I have no idea what the concerns raised are or by whom. I do know that there has been an organized campaign against me recently to get me out of the office I was duly elected to and I was threatened this would happen if I didn’t resign.
“Due process matters, I ask that people withhold judgement until the investigation is complete. I believe women’s allegations need to be heard and then investigated by a credible process/sources and rule 27 is a new rule, but I’m hoping it’s a fair one, it’s already not being fair because the same person who threatened me that this would happen, now is calling for my resignation before the investigation has begun. By calling for my resignation the speaker is putting the integrity of the investigation at risk. Due process matters.”
After reading Hernandez’s statement to KOIN 6 News, Kotek released another statement vehemently denying Hernandez’s claim that he was threatened.
“Representative Hernandez’s allegation that I threatened him is absolutely false,” the House Speaker said.
The Portland Tribune reports Hernandez was accused three years ago of keeping a list of female lobbyists based on attractiveness. Legislative investigators were unable to turn up evidence of such a list, but the allegation resurfaced in a 2019 report by the state Bureau of Labor and Industries alleging that the Oregon Legislature was a hostile workplace.
The Portland Tribune is a KOIN 6 News media partner