After Sen. Brian Boquist, R-Dallas, made inflammatory remarks threatening state police and the Senate president, a legislative committee voted to require Boquist to provide written notice 12 hours before entering the state Capitol. Lawmakers said that would allow time to have more state troopers in the building and beef up security.
Boquist’s lawsuit claims he is being punished for exercising his First Amendment right to free speech. Boquist filed the complaint in the U.S. District Court in Portland on Friday, July 26, 2019. Boquist’s complaint also challenges fines that were imposed on Republicans when they left the building.
Before the Republicans fled the state, blocking a vote on a controversial cap-and-trade bill, the governor threatened to send state troopers after them if they left. While speaking on the Senate floor before a day before the nine-day walkout, Boquist told Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, “If you send the state police to get me, hell’s coming to visit you personally.” Later in the day, he told a KGW reporter that the governor should send single state troopers who should be heavily armed. “I’m not going to be a political prisoner in the state of Oregon. It’s just that simple,” he said on the video.
The following day Republicans walked out.
An attorney made an interim finding that Boquist’s comments violated the Legislature’s rules against workplace harassment and recommended Boquist be kept out of the Capitol while an investigation was underway.
The Senate Special Committee on Conduct ruled police presence should be increased while a private attorney hired by the state completes an investigation into Boquist’s behavior.
Boquist’s lawsuit names Courtney and two other Democrats who sit on the conduct committee, Sens. Floyd Prozanski and James Manning, both Democrats from Eugene. In addition, the lawsuit names Dexter Johnson, the Legislature’s legal counsel, the human resource director and a private attorney hired to investigate the complaint.