SALEM, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon lawmaker facing expulsion from the state House of Representatives after women accused him of harassment is resigning.
Oregon Public Broadcasting reports that Rep. Diego Hernandez said in a brief statement late Sunday that he had stepped down “so my colleagues may focus on serving Oregonians and so I can move forward with my life and focus on my health and family.”
Over the weekend a judge rejected the Portland Democrat’s legal effort to stop the vote on his expulsion.
The entire House was scheduled to vote as soon as Tuesday on whether to expel Hernandez after a panel of lawmakers determined he created a hostile work environment for three women. It would have taken a two-thirds vote – 40 members of the House – to expel Hernandez.
Earlier this month the conduct committee of the state House had voted in favor of expelling Hernandez.
The third-term Democratic lawmaker, once considered a rising star of his party, had faced allegations of harassment for months. After an independent investigation, members of the House Conduct Committee determined he harassed and created a hostile workplace at the state Capitol for the three women.
The women involved in the investigation all worked at the state Capitol or had jobs that required interacting with the Legislature.
Hernandez said he did not have a meaningful chance to present his side of the case. He filed a lawsuit, which included several text messages with the women who were part of the investigation.
Hernandez’s lawsuit sought a temporary restraining order to stop the vote on expulsion and to prevent any other sanctions. But United States District Court Judge Ann Aiken made it clear the Oregon Legislature has been “entrusted with power over policing its own members,” and she was leery of allowing the court to intervene.