Assemblyman Roger Hernández, who lost his committee posts this summer after a judge issued a domestic violence restraining order against him, continues to draw per diem payments for travel-related expenses to Sacramento despite being absent from work and on medical leave.
Assembly officials confirmed this week Hernández continues to receive a daily stipend of $176, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday. The development underscores how the West Covina Democrat’s ongoing legal trouble has become a political headache for Assembly Democrats — one that Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, sought to avoid by encouraging Hernandez to resign before the Legislature reconvened this week for the final month of the 2016 session.
The turmoil has also sparked debate in the Capitol over whether to invoke a new law, approved by voters following a series of scandals in the state Senate, that allows legislators to suspend a lawmaker without pay.
Hernández, who is running for Congress against longtime Democratic Rep. Grace Napolitano of Norwalk, has been locked in a contentious divorce with Baldwin Park City Councilwoman Susan Rubio, who alleged he severely beat her over the course of their marriage.
After a judge approved Rubio’s request for a restraining order last month, Rendon stripped Hernández, of his committee assignments. He later broached the question of whether Hernandez would serve the rest of his two-year term, which expires this year.
“The speaker talked to Mr. Hernández, and he suggested that he needs time to deal with his personal problems and that perhaps resigning would allow him to do that,” a source close to Rendon told The Times.
Hernández, did not resign. On Monday, he submitted a doctor’s note saying he was ill and would be out for one and a half weeks, according to The Times. He did not return calls for comment, and two attorneys who had previously represented Hernández,told The Times he is no longer a client.
—Staff and wire reports