Rep. Diego Hernandez, 29, a rising star in Oregon's Democratic Party, took to Facebook on Saturday to deny rumors swirling at the state Capitol that he had ranked female lobbyists based on attractiveness.
On his Facebook page, Hernandez called for a fact-finding inquiry into an "ugly, relentless campaign of rumors."
"I categorically and emphatically state that I have never engaged in any ranking of lobbyists based on physical attributes," he wrote. "In my entire time as a legislator, I have never talked to or about a female lobbyist, legislator, legislative staff, or other individual in a way that could be characterized as demeaning, disrespectful, or inappropriate. …I have dedicated my life to social justice and dismantling patriarchy and sexism."
Hernandez's proactive denial was first reported this afternoon by The Oregonian, which also reported that conducted by the Legislature's lawyers and human resources officials.
Hernandez declined to comment further to WW.
House Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson tells WW in a statement that she recently told Hernandez about the rumors he was ranking lobbyists.
"Meetings that I have with my members are confidential and I don't share the details of them," she writes. "That being said, Rep. Hernandez gave me permission to share what we discussed in our meeting. I met with him to inform him that there were wild rumors being spread about him. Let's be clear, this is a completely groundless whisper campaign against Diego. This is beneath the integrity of this institution."
Here is the full Facebook post from Rep. Hernandez:
I want to make this perfectly clear: I am currently the target of harassment and civil rights violations. For the past several weeks, I’ve been subjected to an ugly, relentless campaign of rumors—the content of which offends every fiber of my being and runs contrary to the work I’ve spent my entire adult life doing.
As painful as the experience of the past few weeks has been, I can’t let this injustice stand. This is so deeply concerning that I asked for a fact-finding inquiry to be conducted into the rumors being spread so that the truth can come out—including the truth about who’s responsible. I believe that my civil rights have been violated by the spread of these vicious lies, and that question has become part of the inquiry. I believe that this whisper campaign against me is an attempt by some to intimidate me, and I won’t let that stand.
Let me be as perfectly clear as I can be: I categorically and emphatically state that I have never engaged in any ranking of lobbyists based on physical attributes. In my entire time as a legislator, I have never talked to or about a female lobbyist, legislator, legislative staff, or other individual in a way that could be characterized as demeaning, disrespectful, or inappropriate. People who know me and know what I’ve dedicated my life to know how preposterous these allegations are. I have dedicated my life to social justice and dismantling patriarchy and sexism. As a social worker, former teacher and non-profit executive director, I have dedicated my time and energy to uplifting others. I’ve dedicated my career to developing young civic leaders from underrepresented and marginalized communities. I am a proud intersectional feminist who was raised by a strong single mom and because of that I will not be bullied or silenced. I look forward to all of the facts coming out once the inquiry is completed. I’m confident the results will show that I’ve been the target of harassment and discriminatory attacks. In the meantime, I want to protect the integrity of the inquiry and won’t have further comments on these allegations. Rep. Diego Hernandez