Jose Cruz
Jose Cruz, then a candidate for House District 89, speaks during a National Voter Registration Day event at Wheeler Park in Oklahoma City on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020.

Rep. Jose Cruz (D-OKC) is resigning from the Oklahoma Legislature this week after “acting inappropriately at a gathering” on New Year’s Eve.

According to political consultant Danielle Ezell, Cruz is expected to resign effective 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 21. Ezell provided a statement on behalf of Cruz late Wednesday evening confirming his resignation:

With a heavy heart, I am resigning as the representative for House District 89.

I started 2022 by exercising poor judgment and acting inappropriately during a gathering. I deeply regret my conduct and that my actions made someone else uncomfortable. I’m upset with myself and embarrassed.

My actions on New Year’s Eve did not reflect my values and beliefs. I consider myself a champion of women and have deep respect for my female colleagues and friends. However, my conduct that evening was inappropriate. I take full responsibility for my behavior and I apologize.

I can’t express my gratitude enough to my constituents, donors, colleagues and family. I’m very proud to have represented the people of south Oklahoma City, and serving as your representative has been a great honor.

Nevertheless, I must resign my seat, take steps to right my wrongs and learn from this experience. And although I’m giving up this seat, I will not give up advocating for others and fighting to improve Oklahoma.

Ezell said Cruz would have no further comment on his resignation or the incident in question at this time.

House Minority Leader Emily Virgin (D-Norman) released a statement shortly after the publication of this article Wednesday night.

“We are aware of Rep. Cruz’s resignation and have a plan in place to make sure services to the constituents of House District 89 are uninterrupted,” Virgin said. “I have no further comment at this time due to potential investigations related to the matter.”

Background on Jose Cruz

A native of Mexico City who was raised in Chicago, Cruz won election to the Legislature in November 2020 after Rep. Shane Stone (D-OKC) resigned in late 2019 to take a job in Arizona. Cruz served on the House Criminal Judiciary Committee and the House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee.

An Oklahoma City University School of Law graduate, Cruz had been an employee of the Foshee Yaffe law firm in Oklahoma City but left the firm in 2021, according to partner Alex Yaffe. Cruz’s website bio says that he practiced in the areas of personal injury, bankruptcy, estate planning, criminal defense and health care.

Cruz has also served on the board of directors for Variety Care, a community health center, since 2014.

House District 89 covers much of southwest Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma Legislature is set to begin its 2022 regular session on Monday, Feb. 7.

(Update: This article was updated at 10:15 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 19 — 15 minutes after it published — to include comment from Virgin. It was updated again at 10:26 p.m. to clarify Cruz’s employment.)