Capital Bureau

SALEM — In response to rumors that he created an attractiveness ranking of female lobbyists, a freshman lawmaker says he has requested an inquiry into the rumors.

Rep. Diego Hernandez, D-Portland, denied the allegations Saturday.

“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,” Hernandez said in a statement posted to his Facebook page Saturday evening. “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.”

Legislative employee services and legislative counsel are conducting a fact-finding inquiry into the rumors, according to a spokesman for the House Democrats.

Hernandez said he was the target of harassment and civil rights violations.

“I’m looking forward to all of the facts coming out once the inquiry is completed,” Hernandez said. “I’m confident the results will show that I’ve been the target of harassment and discriminatory attacks. In the the meantime, I want to protect the integrity of the inquiry and won’t have further comments on these allegations.”

Speaker of the House Tina Kotek, D-Portland, said through a spokeswoman that she was aware that Hernandez had “requested an inquiry into rumors being spread about him.” She declined to comment further Saturday night.

Hernandez did not return a call seeking comment to his legislative office Saturday evening, as lawmakers were finishing a day of floor sessions and committee hearings.

Hernandez, 29, the youngest member of the Oregon Legislative Assembly, also serves on the Reynolds School Board.

He has been a vocal advocate on education issues, in particular: he served as vice chair of the House Committee on Education this session and was one of four freshman Democrats in the House who voted against the state’s two-year $8.2 billion education budget June 27, saying the amount was insufficient.

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