LARD BUTTS AND NEPOTISM
By Betty Freauf
September 6, 2006
An anti-radical environmentalist talk show host, Dr. Bill Wattenberg on KGO radio out of San Francisco has said that relatives and friends of legislators are given nice soft-jobs in all these governmental agencies. He calls them “Lard Butts.” Following are a few examples from my State of Oregon. Rather than use continuous footnotes, let it be known that much of the information regarding the following scandals of Oregon legislators have been taken from the Salem, Oregon Statesman Journal.
There it is in our local fish wrapper again, a story about yet another Oregon legislator giving favoritism to a relative. Only this time it is a Republican by the name of Billy Dalto who represents a district in Salem, the Capital of Oregon. And now it’s the Democrat’s turn to attack these highly questionable ethics. It seems Dalto hired his mother, a Latin jazz vocalist from New York city, as his legislative aide, just as she was experiencing financial troubles and was in the process of filing bankruptcy. He paid his inexperienced mother the equivalent of $3,500 per month for nearly three month’s work, compared with $2,600 he paid her predecessor. Although she was unfamiliar with his constituents and their concerns, he claims she had more administrative experience than his earlier employee. Now, none of this is illegal. Each legislator is given a staff allowance of $33,228 to spend however they wish and a recent survey showed that 13 of the 30 state senators hired family members and that 24 of the 60 House members did the same. In Washington, D.C. it is suppose to be illegal for Congress people to hire relatives.
A later letter to the local paper by her predecessor, a Willamette University student who had worked for Dalto praised his mother and her abilities to perform the job. Willamette is situated across the street from the Capitol so many students do part-time work there while they are in school. The Willamette president resides in an 8,000 square foot colonial house. Once a Christian college founded by Oregon’s early settlers, it’s now Oregon’s Berkeley. Christianity has been watered down to the point where it is not recognizable. Some friends and I checked out a witchcraft meeting in October 1987 on the campus and if Berkeley is the west coast office for Marxism, as a certain east coast popular talk show host once said, then Willamette is it’s northern chapter. Need I say more?
In September of 2005 a news article told about lawmaker Representative Kelley Wirth (D-Corvallis) age 40, getting intentionally hit by a car driven by Lisa Temple, age 22, who was booked into the county jail on a charge of attempted murder. Although Wirth’s injuries were not life threatening, considerable damage was done to her leg. What caused the assault? The media called it a “Love Triangle.”
It seems Fernando Mendez, a janitor at the Capitol building was having an affair with both women. Wirth continued to deny the alleged love affair and Mendez was placed on paid administrative leave from his job at the Capitol and after being paid for not working, in November 2005 he was paid an additional $27,500 as part of a settlement not to sue the state and he left his job. “We thought it was in the best interests of the taxpayers to resolve the matter this way,” said the Legislative administrator. So, the janitor got the gold and the Oregon taxpayer’s got the shaft. On what grounds could Mendez possibly have for suing the state? I never read about any in the articles. Mendez later got a judge to issue a restraining order against Wirth who he claimed had continued harassing him but it was later lifted when Mendez was unable to prove that Wirth was a threat.
But it gets better. The assault investigation later led to a search of the three-term Democrat’s car looking for letters or other evidence of a relationship with the Capitol janitor but instead police found meth. According to newspaper accounts, Wirth was the only member of the House to cast a negative vote against a bill to toughen punishments for metamphetamine-related crimes in the 2005 legislature. Of course, she had her reasons for her “nay” vote. She was cited for possession of a controlled substance, fingerprinted, photographed and released. Later, in a wheel chair due to her leg injury, she pleaded innocent to possession of meth. The cartoonists were having a heyday. One showed a picture of a wife watching a T.V. program that was talking about “illicit affairs, attempted murder, sex, drugs.” The husband asked the wife if she was watching “Desperate Housewives,” and she responded, “No, this is news coverage about state Rep. Kelley Wirth.” Other John Does have gone to prison on such meth charges but I haven’t heard the latest about Wirth.
But it gets better. A Portland television reporter, who had covered the state Capitol for the station for nearly four years became a part of the investigation when police contacted him regarding the alleged car attack. Wirth apparently had a personal relationship with him too but he said it had ended two years earlier. He lost his job.
And then in November 2005 when Wirth was ready to resign her legislative position, she quickly awarded raises to her staff, including her mother who she had been paid $3,000 a month but raised it to $3,500 in mid-October and then she submitted paper work raising her mother’s pay to $6,500 a month. Two other staff members got raises from $500 a week to $750 a week as of November 1. She said, “My staff earned it.” “I don’t believe there’s a single staff member in this place that doesn’t earn a hell of a lot more than we pay them and that’s all I’m gonna say.” It should be noted that the Oregon legislature is only in session for about six months (sometimes a few weeks extra) from January through July in the odd numbers years. I’ve visited the Capitol during the session and they aren’t working all that hard. I found one legislator’s wife polishing her fingernails one day.
Later, an Ethics panel dismissed a complaint against Democrat Representative Kelley Wirth. She was accused of violating the law by giving unwarranted raises to her mother. The Oregon Government Standards and Practices Commission said that although the pay raises could raise questions, it found that “there is no preponderance of evidence” to indicate Wirth violated state ethics laws. Of course, these “commissions” usually amount to the fox guarding the hen house!
A judge later approved Wirth’s bankruptcy and let her off the hook for $44,500 in bills although it was noted only a few days earlier she claimed $92,027 in debt.
And then there was another Republican, my own legislator, Representative Dan Doyle – an attorney – who was first elected to the Oregon legislature in 2001. In 2004 he was running for his third re-election term and his wife, Victoria, decided to run for County Clerk. Doyle at one time had both his wife and his mother working in his office. My file during the election cycle overflowed with accolades about what a great guy Dan was. Even his mother and father sent out a mailing. His campaign promises were the usual GOP mantra: successful small businessman, smaller government and fewer regulations, less taxes, photo ops with all the right political elite.
In one mailing he said, “I strive to make the right choices at home as well as in my role as your State Representative.” He was re-elected but shortly afterwards it was discovered that both he and his wife had numerous campaign-finance reporting discrepancies and irregularities. Ironically, Doyle had been the House’s chief budget writer and Republican budget committee co-chairman but feeling he had to devote his full attention to the investigation, he resigned that position and was a no-show at the legislature although he still retained his legislative seat and salary.
He had acted as his own campaign treasurer and signed campaign contribution and expenditure reports that were filed with the Oregon Election Division. Three days after the Oregon attorney general launched a criminal investigation into Doyle’s fall 2004 campaign-finance reports and three weeks into his third term, he relinquished his House position. On the same day, Doyle tried to resign from the state Bar Association but Bar officials rejected his resignation because he filed a resignation form reserved for attorneys who want to stop practicing law and are not facing allegations of misconduct. Filing such a resignation form allowed an attorney to rejoin the state Bar at a later date but Bar officials said he should have filed a resignation form indicating he was “under fire.” This resignation prohibits the attorney from ever practicing law in Oregon again. For part two click below.
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© 2006 Betty Freauf - All
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Betty is a former Oregon Republican party activist having served as state party secretary, county chairman, 5th congressional vice chairman and then elected chairman, and a precinct worker for many years but Betty gave up on the two-party system in 2004 and joined the Constitutional Party.
Once a Christian college founded by Oregon’s early settlers, it’s now Oregon’s Berkeley. Christianity has been watered down to the point where it is not recognizable.