New Riverside County Supervisor Yxstian Gutierrez’s staff includes an ex-school board member who resigned in the wake of illegal weapons charges and past social media posts that included derogatory slurs and use of a Barbie doll to narrate a rape scenario.
Evan Morgan started work as a legislative assistant Monday, Jan. 2, Gutierrez said via email.
Gutierrez, who unseated Jeff Hewitt in November, was sworn in Tuesday, Jan. 10, to represent the Board of Supervisors’ 5th District, which includes the San Gorgonio Pass, Hemet, San Jacinto and Moreno Valley.
In emailed responses to questions, Morgan said he applied for the job on Gutierrez’s website and the county website and was “vetted through the hiring process and passed HR’s background check process.”
“I went through the legal process and all my charges were dismissed and my record was cleared,” Morgan said. “I am a veteran with over two decades of work experience. I believe that people deserve the human right to work and provide for their families.”
Morgan’s pay is $39.90 an hour, according to Gutierrez. That comes out to more than $80,000 a year, based on a 40-hour work week.
Morgan was elected to the Moreno Valley Unified School District board in 2016. In December 2016, Gutierrez posted photos on Facebook of what appears to be him giving the oath of office to Morgan at a school board meeting.
“Swearing in my good friend Evan Morgan!” wrote Gutierrez, who was Moreno Valley’s mayor at the time. “Congrats Evan! Really proud of you!”
In 2017, Morgan faced calls to resign amid revelations that his driver’s license was suspended 10 times and he was cited three times for driving with a suspended license.
Critics also denounced him for social media posts, made in 2011 and 2012, that referred to masturbation and contained slurs about women and derogatory terms for the disabled. He also tweeted: “Kind of annoying that it’s acceptable to tweet #whitepeoplestink but it’s racist to tweet #blackpeoplestink where’s equality in that.”
A 2010 YouTube video posted under Morgan’s name used toys, including a Barbie doll, to depict a scenario about the doll being raped. At a 2017 school board meeting, Morgan, now 39, according to police paperwork about his Corona arrest, said he made the postings while he was in his early 20s and testing material for a stand-up comedy act.
“Taken out of that context, I can see how these posts would offend, and for that I would like to apologize,” Morgan’s written statement read at the time.
In June 2018, Morgan was arrested in Corona on suspicion of burglary and vandalism. Morgan’s lawyer at the time said the arrest stemmed from Morgan’s attempt to recover stolen money.
He faced separate charges, including possession of an assault weapon, after investigators executing a search warrant on his home reported finding a loaded illegal AR-15 rifle in his bedroom closet.
According to a court filing, Morgan admitted to purchasing the rifle from a friend who was not licensed to sell firearms and to buying two other illegal AR-15s from the same person. Morgan sold one rifle and traded another for a handgun and a shotgun, and both transactions were unlawfully completed without a licensed entity, the court document shows.
Morgan resigned from the Moreno Valley school board in September 2018.
Records pertaining to Morgan’s 2018 legal troubles aren’t available online. “It appears these cases are sealed by the court,” Amy McKenzie, a spokesperson for the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, said via email.
Court records for someone whose name matches Morgan’s show an August 2020 citation for texting while driving in Moreno Valley, which resulted in $458 in fines being paid.
Gutierrez said Morgan “assured me that he had gone through the necessary legal process and completed all that was required of him, resulting in resolved or dismissed charges.”
Morgan passed the background check required for supervisorial staff and most county employees and “no recent convictions … nor any pending legal cases” came up during that check, the supervisor added.
“I believe that everyone has the right to go through their legal process,” Gutierrez said. “This opportunity with the Fifth District is a new start and he is ready to put his past behind him.”
Donovan Saadiq, a Moreno Valley resident and former city council candidate, criticized Morgan’s social media posts in 2017. While Gutierrez can hire who he wants, “I have a lot of misgivings” about the hiring of Morgan, Saadiq said.
“I know (Morgan) personally,” Saadiq added. “His personality is one of those personalities that constantly gets into trouble.”