Jesse Hernandez, Ex-Chair of AZ Executive Clemency Board, Gave Improper Raise to Girlfriend, Report States
The heavily redacted report (below) by the human resources division of the Arizona Department of Administration details that and eight other incidents state investigators sustained in an investigation, portraying Hernandez as an office troublemaker.
Hernandez, a GOP consultant who heads a Hispanic group that supports SB1070, was one of three new members Governor Jan Brewer appointed last year. The appointments followed the firing of three of the five board members, who Brewer apparently felt might be prone to give clemency to inmates.
As New Times reported this morning, Hernandez' departure came more than a week after the resignation of another of Brewer's handpicked, new members, Mel Thomas. His resignation letter stated he "could no longer endure the way me and my fellow board members have been treated."
A source told us yesterday that Thomas had been referring to Hernandez.
Numerous witnesses backed up the allegations in the investigation, which began with a complaint by a woman employee of the state agency on May 16. The unidentified woman claimed that Hernandez had discriminated and retaliated against her.
It's unclear if the woman who filed the complaint is the same woman Hernandez dated. The report details how the two had been seen frequently carpooling together, sharing lunch leftovers, standing close to each other at times, play-slapping and generally acting like a couple. One witness saw Hernandez give the woman a kiss. Sometimes they'd seem to "get under the others' skin, in a way that only your significant other could do."
Hernandez promoted the woman and gave her a $21,340 raise, even though she wasn't qualified or deserving of the promotion, the report states. He denied the two were in a sexual relationship.
Employees and other board members were encouraged by Hernandez to gossip about each other, and "spy on each other." Then, after learning some piece of gossip about an employee or board member, Hernandez would reportedly tell the target of the gossip how others were talking behind their backs. He denied the allegation, saying people would freely tell him things, but that he wouldn't spread the gossip. Investigators didn't believe him.
The report, while difficult to decipher because of all the blacked-out lines, makes it clear that others in the clemency board office felt Hernandez would flirt with women, was "promiscuous," and sometimes make harassing statements, such as "routinely" calling one worker a "heathen" because she didn't attend church.
But the report also indicates that Hernandez wasn't the only problem perceived by clemency board staff. "Management" including Hernandez encouraged others to document and spy on disfavored employees.
One sustained allegation, for example, states that Hernandez and an unnamed person harassed a woman. Allegation Eight, also sustained, says Hernandez and an unnamed person "regularly make inappropriate and discriminatory comments."
For example, one woman recalled telling Hernandez and the other troublemaker about her fiance's cousin and his girlfriend, who was an Indian woman with a wealthy family. "Then why is she dating that white trash?" the unnamed person told the employee.
We've put in a request to find out the identity of Hernandez's accomplice, if you will, in the list of allegations. We also tried repeatedly to get Andrew Wilder, spokesman for Brewer, on the line, but he refused to return our calls.