Did you know that Gordon Smith’s re-election campaign has organized itself into geographical units by congressional district, with an honorary chair for each district? Together they compose the ‘Smith 2008 Republican Leadership Team’. Well, one of Gordon Smith’s honorary chairs, House Republican Leader Rep. Bruce Hanna (R-Roseburg) just resolved his breach of ethics with a state commission yesterday.
According to David Steves of the Eugene Register-Guard:
Hanna, whose district includes eastern Lane and Douglas counties, will pay $100 for each of his two ethics-law violations. They involved two trips to the Sunriver resort that were paid for by lobbying organizations, but which Hanna did not publicly disclose as required. Hanna’s $215 trip in 2005 to the Central Oregon resort was paid for by a trade group that lobbies for hospitals. His $147 Sunriver trip in 2004 was financed by the grocery industry’s lobbying arm.
Hanna was on a hunting vacation Friday and not available for comment. The Roseburg lawmaker has previously acknowledged that he failed to comply with legal requirements to disclose such gratuities when furnished by those that lobby the Legislature.
That’s two trips to the same place, both paid for by lobby groups. It sounds a little fishy that both groups would hold a conference in the same place, but it could possibly be entirely coincidental. Or maybe Rep. Hanna can easily find himself sponsors to his favorite resort. Who knows?
The thing is, ethics violations are commonplace to a good number of Smith’s honorary campaign chairs. Heck, it seems like past ethics problems are nearly a requirement to sign up with the Smith campaign! To name the obvious:
- Rep. Wayne Scott (R-Oregon City), who accepted a trip to a Hawaiian resort from the beer lobby
- Rep. Karen Minnis (R-Wood Village), accepted a free trip to Israel worth over $4,000
- Sen. David Nelson (R-Pendleton), who went with Rep. Scott to Hawaii courtesy of Paul Romain and the beer lobby
- Sen. Jason Atkinson (R-Eagle Point), who went to the Hawaii conference in 2002
And one other thing: after Nelson and Scott were fined for failing to report the 2004 trip Hawaii, they went again in 2006 to collect over $30,000 in campaign contributions! What’s more, Hanna joined Scott and Nelson on that second trip–creating a complete ‘Lobbyist Luau’ contingent on Smith’s team.
Obviously, Gordon Smith is showing Oregonians the kind of Senator he’ll continue to be by appointing these ethically-challenged lawmakers as honorary chairs of his campaign. By virtue of association, Smith reveals his true agenda for the continued exploitation of government by the special interests for the benefit of a few powerful and influential individuals.
Oregonians deserve a senator who believes in good government of, by and for the people. That senator is Jeff Merkley, who in the 2007 legislative session successfully pushed for greater accountability in our public officials. To show just how important this bill was to him, Speaker Merkley carried this bill himself on the House floor:
“Restoring the public’s faith in their elected leaders starts with a strong ethical standard,” said House Speaker Jeff Merkley (D-Portland), who carried the bill during floor debate. “When our constituents see us receive exotic vacations and expensive dinners, they wonder if their interests are really being served here. They wonder if their voice is as important as someone giving a lavish gift. Today, we’re putting an end to that.”
Jeff Merkley puts process before power. And that’s more than anyone can say for Gordon Smith and his collection of corrupt co-chairs.