Oregon lawmakers are preparing to defend themselves against accusations that they underplayed reports of sexual harassment at the state Capitol.
On Monday, they voted to retain Portland-based law firm Barran Liebman LLP to fight back against a complaint filed by Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, accusing leaders of the Legislature of creating a hostile workplace.
Avakian specifically said Senate President Peter Courtney and House Speaker Tina Kotek ignored complaints of sexual harassment and unwanted touching by now former-Sen. Jeff Kruse until they became public last year.
“I have taken every complaint that has come to me very seriously,” Kotek said. “This is a personal issue for me, not a political one. I want to be sure people feel safe in the Capitol.”
Legislative leaders have asked the Oregon Law Commission to consider how to improve the Capitol's workplace policies ahead of the 2019 legislative session.
Editor's note: Barran Liebman is an underwriter of OPB.