An administrator on the House Conduct Committee emailed members on Oct. 14 of a hearing expected to be scheduled for Oct. 19 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
This hearing would serve as the final chapter in a complaint filed by former State Assemblyman Diego Hernandez (D-East Portland) in January 2021 against former House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland).
In his complaint, Hernandez alleged that Kotek retaliated against him for refusing to vote with her on a controversial 2019 law that cut benefits for public employees. Kotek, normally a staunch ally of public employee unions, had to work very hard to find democratic votes to pass the law. One of her opponents in the running for governor, former state senator Betsy Johnson (D-Scappose), made her support for the Student Success Act, a new $1 billion tax on businesses conditional on the passage of benefit cuts.
A year later, three women filed complaints against Hernandez, and Kotek called for his resignation. Over the next year, investigators from the Legislative Equity Office built a case against him based on complaints that he had molested women in the Capitol.
As ww Melissa Healy, an attorney for Stoel Rives, investigated Hernandez’s complaint and found in a draft report released in September that while his version of Kotek’s harsh response to his vote may be true, her behavior did not violate the Code’s code of conduct.
However, Healy’s investigation lasted more than 600 days, far longer than the 84 days stipulated in the house rules. (Kotek, who resigned as spokeswoman in January, says she had nothing to do with the length of the investigation. She notes that the Legislative Equity Office, which Healy hired, is designed to operate independently of legislative leadership to investigate complaints impartially. )
Also Read: New Emails Reveal Diego Hernandez Only Received an Inquiry Report After a Cry for Distress
In an Oct. 3 written response to the Conduct Committee, Kotek wrote that she was satisfied with Healy’s investigation and reiterated her concern that Hernandez’s complaint was unfounded.
“His complaint against me was a blatant attempt to distract people from his own harmful behavior, and it undermines the Conduct Committee’s true goal, which is to make the Capitol a safe and welcoming place to work for all,” Kotek wrote.
Shortly after filing his complaint in January 2021, Hernandez resigned his seat in the House of Representatives after the Conduct Committee recommended his expulsion over harassment complaints that women had filed against him. His resignation was preceded by a plenary vote that would have been necessary for his expulsion.
For his part, Hernandez has expressed great frustration at the length of time Healy’s investigation into his complaint has taken and at her conclusion. He says ww via text message that he plans to testify at the Conduct Committee hearing on Wednesday. “I will also have witnesses,” he says.