At a press conference today Commissioner Rob Handy addressed allegations that he says are timed to cause maximum damage to his re-election campaign. This is not the first time the liberal minority of the county commission has been targeted. See today's cover story on the Politics of Personal Destruction as well as last year's Shifty Politics.
The Board of Lane County Commissioners had an emergency meeting at 9 am this morning to discuss a public records request on the issue.
The press release starts off:
May 3, 2012
An emergency meeting of the Lane County Commission was held this morning, beginning at 9 am, for the purpose of responding to a request for a public records release. The request comes following the filing of a letter by Eugene Attorney Alan Thayer on behalf of Eugene resident and property [and] business owner, John H. Brown.
Central to the request are allegations contained in the letter. It is addressed to Lane County Commissioner Rob Handy and copied to the District Attorney, Secretary of State and the Oregon Government Ethics Commission. Commissioner Handy is alleged to have solicited contributions from certain individuals to help him pay off the money he agreed to reimburse the County for the Dumdi v. Handy case.
The letter was received late yesterday, Wednesday, May 2. Lane County officials will work with state officials that are now involved in the case.
It then goes on to note that, " Those attending this mornings emergency session included County Administrator Liane Richardson, Commission Chair Sid Leiken, County Commissioner Faye Stewar[t] and County Commissioner Jay Bozievich."
The commissioners in attendance were the conservative board majority, which often votes in opposition to Handy and liberal commissioner Pete Sorenson. Richardson, who was also present, made harassment allegations against Handy that were deemed unfounded. She based her claims on that Handy and Sorenson had voted against her being hired as "permanent" county administrator and accused him of having negative body language towards her.
Notification of the meeting was sent out at 7:42 am this morning. Handy said at the press conference today that he did not get the email in time to attend the emergency meeting. The board usually meets on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, not Thursday.
Handy said in his remarks today:
This complaint of Mr. Brown’s is coming forward in this manner and at this time was coldly and cynically planned to make sure that when the truth comes out, the election will be over. The attorney representing him is known for these kinds of tactics as well. If he was truly concerned about my behavior in this matter, he would have filed a complaint months and months ago after my request of him for a donation.
Handy then explained the donation issue:
Speaking directly to this issue of Mr. Brown’s filings: I found out earlier this year that a constituent who thought the fact that I had to repay Lane County any money related to the Dumdi lawsuit was unfair and had gone down to Lane County and paid some money against this debt.
I was surprised to learn that this was an option – that people who felt the lawsuit settlement was unfair could help out in this way. I contacted the Finance Department at Lane County to confirm that this was true.
I was told by the Finance Department that this was true and that people could pay directly to this debt either publicly or anonymously. I found out the process from Lane County on the details of how to do that so that I could share this information with my supporters. I knew that there were many folks who felt that this debt was an unfair burden on me as an elected official and would want to help.
After finding out this information from Lane County, I did ask several supporters to assist with this debt. I believe that some people did go down to Lane County and make a payment of this sort. I am grateful to whoever did go and make such a payment – this is my first opportunity to express that gratitude.
Once my campaign started, I did ask a few of my supporters for assistance with donating to my campaign or to this debt or one or the other or both. There was nothing wrong with that then or now. In fact, I still hope that people will respond to this appeal. There are many out there who feel that this debt was unfair and who may still want to assist with repayment.
Both the allegations and Handy's press statement are attached below.