The Oregon Secretary of State’s office plans to fine Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith $250 after investigating a complaint that her staffers were made to work on campaign events, but says several allegations could not be proven.
While the fine is small, it’s significant because it comes as Smith is campaigning for her next office. Facing county term limits, she has declared that she is running for Portland City Council, though she has not formally filed.
On Monday afternoon the state notified Smith that it had found sufficient evidence to prove three violations, but “insufficient evidence” to prove other of the allegations. However, the state’s investigation was hampered by a reluctance to talk by potential witnesses, wrote state elections director Stephen Trout in a letter to Smith.
It’s clear that members of her staff volunteered at political events, he wrote, but whether it was truly voluntary is “not as clear … For a number of staff it is clear that they wanted to volunteer at the political events and were willing to use their vacation and other leave to do so. Others testified they felt participating in these political events was expected as a part of their jobs, although they did use vacation time to do it. Some witnesses expressed concern of retaliation if they provided information for this investigation.”
Read the full story at the Portland Tribune.