Arizona clemency board leader resigned after probe

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX (AP) -- The former head of the state Board of Executive Clemency resigned his position last week after a state investigation found he repeatedly committed inappropriate behavior and also promoted a woman he was dating, according to records released Wednesday.

The promotion Jesse Hernandez awarded to the woman came with a pay raise of more than $21,000 a year and investigators concluded she was not qualified for the position.

The Arizona Department of Administration released the heavily redacted records of its investigation on Wednesday after a public records request from The Associated Press and other news organizations.

The investigation was prompted by a female clemency board employee's May complaint about Hernandez and an employee whose name was blacked out. She alleged she was subjected to discrimination based on age, national origin, pregnancy and race, among other issues.

The female employee complained that Hernandez was dating another employee and promoted her because of their relationship. Both Hernandez and the employee denied dating or being in a sexual relationship, but investigators determined that they were in a relationship.

Other allegations the investigation found were substantiated included that Hernandez tried to manipulate other employees and turn them against each other and said Brewer gave him authority to fine any of the four other board members. Other employees also confirmed that Hernandez called other staff members or their families "heathens" or "hillbillies," among other examples in the reports that included calling inmates seeking early release "scumbags."

Hernandez was appointed to the post by Gov. Jan Brewer last year after previously holding jobs with Republican groups and a GOP elected official. He resigned the $84,000 a year job on Friday. A phone listing could not be found, but The Arizona Republic reported he did not answer his cellphone.

A statement from Brewer spokesman Andrew Wilder said Hernandez's conduct was unacceptable.

"Mr. Hernandez recognized that and the governor welcomed his resignation," Wilder wrote.

Among the nine allegations the investigation found were substantiated was one involving NBA star Amare Stoudemire, who the records said met Hernandez while waiting for a family member's clemency hearing. Hernandez granted a fourth continuation of the hearing even though the victim's mother had driven 250 miles to attend. Photos of Hernandez with Stoudemire were included in the released records.

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