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Ethics of state ethics panel questioned

Two weeks ago Kara Hansen Murphey had an article regarding my submission of a complaint to the Oregon Government Ethics Commission (OGEC) regarding City Councilor Donna Jordan releasing a confidential memo to The Oregonian prior to it being declassified by either the writer (Mayor Kent Studebaker), the classifying authority (City Attorney David Powell) or the city council as a whole. That was the extent of my complaint. It had nothing to do with the removal of David Donaldson as interim city manager or the appointing of Tom Coffee as his replacement.

Two weeks ago, I was made aware that the OGEC had begun contacting individual members of the city council indicating they were opening an investigation based on my complaint and implying that I had made accusations about the individual members of the council. This was news to me. 

I then received a letter from the OGEC regarding my complaint, which indicated cases had been opened on each of the city council members. I called and spoke with the OGEC investigator who verified that was the case. She explained the material I provided attached to my Jordan complaint, which consisted of newspaper articles surrounding the Jan. 15 meeting and the following meeting where Donna admitted she had provided the letter to The Oregonian. She advised the material indicated possible violations of the executive session provisions of ORS 192.660. She would not go into any detail about what she was referring to. She stated it was not necessary for my complaint to name other individuals for it to be applied to other public figures.

I asked whether other complaints had been received and she seemed elusive in her response. My impression is that they did receive correspondence from other parties. Perhaps that was then used to focus in on my materials for expansion of the complaint. At any rate, my letter stands as the basis for the preliminary review of each individual member of the council and for that I am not happy.

Then I found out that a complaint had also been filed regarding the removal of the Clackamas County administrator, indicating bar and ethics violations in the process.

I can well believe this is tied into OGEC expanding my complaint to include the rest of the city council. Is this a strategy to sully the victories of this past election? I can visualize the progressive powers sitting in their smoking chairs saying, “Hey, here’s another way to attack those confounded conservatives. We’ll go after the Lake Oswego City Council and the Clackamas Board of County Commissioners for forcing out the interim city manager and county administrator.” Contact with the Democratic-appointed director of the OGEC determines a current complaint regarding one member of the LOCC they can just tack on to without having to reveal the instigator and then file the CBCC complaint.

Seems like the plot for a Tom Clancy novel doesn’t it? It isn’t. It appears to be the strategy of a defeated group of individuals in the last election to smear the reputation of our duly elected representatives without regard for the best interests of our city and our county. We must not let their efforts deter either our city or our county from achieving the goals the electorate indicated they desired.

Gary Gipson, Lake Oswego, is a board member of COLA-LO but notes that neither this letter or his OGEC complaint was submitted in that capacity.

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