Assemblyman Roger Hernández's former lawyer accuses the Fair Political Practices Commission of trying to intimidate and harass him as the watchdog agency investigates whether money laundering occurred in the assemblyman's 2010 campaign, according to court filings The Sacramento Bee obtained Friday.
Aldo A. Flores, who has represented Hernández in earlier brushes with the law, sued the FPPC in September in an attempt to block subpoenas requesting his bank records.
"I tried to reason with them. I contacted them in several instances prior to the lawsuit. They blew me off," Flores said in an interview with The Bee.
"I specifically stated I was trying to avoid litigation. But I had no choice."
Flores made a $3,900 contribution to Hernandez's campaign in late 2009. The FPPC argues that its subpoenas may unveil evidence that someone reimbursed Flores for the donation. Hiding the identity of a donor by passing money through someone else amounts to political money laundering and violates the law.
The FPPC subpoenas — included in Flores's lawsuit — seek monthly statements, copies of checks worth $2,000 or more and various other transaction records from two of his bank accounts during late 2009 and early 2010.
"The subpoenas are overbroad and violative of Plaintiff's rights and lawful privileges," says Flores's suit against the FPPC.
"Defendant FPPC is engaging in frivolous and vexatious tactics, as well as engaging in unethical behavior hoping to intimidate Plaintiff into providing his private bank records."
A hearing to determine whether Flores must comply with the subpoenas is scheduled in Los Angeles Superior Court on January 16.
Hernández issued a statement earlier this week saying "the FPPC has no information that the check was improper."
"Since the beginning of this investigation I have fully cooperated with the FPPC and as such provided all records that have been requested of me. In the 5 years since these allegations were raised, the FPPC has not prompted any official letter of accusation," the statement from Hernandez says.
Hernández has faced allegations of wrongdoing in recent years, but has never been found guilty.
Flores represented Hernández last year when a former girlfriend filed a civil suit alleging that Hernández had hit her with a belt and slammed her into a wall. The woman's lawyers eventually asked the court to dismiss the suit, and Los Angeles County prosecutors decided not to charge Hernández with domestic violence.
Flores also represented Hernández in two lawsuits brought by employees of the City of West Covina, where Hernández served on the city council before being elected to the Assembly in 2010.
PHOTO: Assemblyman Roger Hernández speaks during an Assembly session in 2012. Associated Press/Rich Pedroncelli