Allegations of sexual harassment and intimidation are once again dogging an elected official.
This time, a Democratic Oregon state lawmaker is facing potential expulsion from the legislative body over new claims by multiple women.
Conduct committee votes to recommend expulsion
State Rep. Diego of Portland has been accused by the alleged victims of repeatedly engaging in abusive and coercive behavior during his tenure at the state capitol, as reported by the Washington Examiner.
His accusers have painted him as someone who attempted to transform professional relationships into personal and intimate ones, even threatening retaliation when his advances were rebuffed.
The details of Hernandez’s alleged behavior toward certain female colleagues were laid out in a damning 33-page report produced by an independent investigative firm on behalf of the Oregon House Conduct Committee. That panel voted on Friday to recommend that he be expelled via a vote by the full House chamber.
At issue is whether or not the lawmaker violated the so-called “Rule 27,” which is a regulation prohibiting abusive or harassing behavior from legislators — particularly of a sexual nature — that could result in the creation of a hostile or uncomfortable work environment for others.
The conduct committee outlined 18 separate allegations it determined could reasonably be believed were true. Three different women came forward with the claims, which included multiple and repeated solicitations for an intimate relationship that they said they were led to believe would be a requirement for a continued professional working association.
First-ever full chamber vote likely
Hernandez has denied the allegations against him but nevertheless faces mounting calls from a variety of elected officials — including legislative leaders and the governor — for him to resign from office.
The Center Square, a state news outlet, reported that the committee’s nine-month probe into the allegations could easily spell the end of his career in public office. Its report detailed allegations dating back to 2017, including a claim from one subject that Hernandez attempted to rekindle an intimate relationship and another from a second woman accusing him of employing verbal and physical abuse.
According to The Oregonian, the state House has never before held a full chamber vote to expel a member.
Such a vote could be held as soon as Feb. 16. If two-thirds of the body — or 40 members — concur, Hernandez would be officially expelled from the legislature.
It remains to be seen whether Hernandez will join a growing list of elected officials ousted or otherwise reprimanded after being accused of improper behavior.