These two cases of Oregon state representatives, Democrat Kelly Wirth and Republican Dan Doyle, are more than instances of private failure: Both dragged over into the public sphere. That does not make them less sad. But it mens the rest of us have an understandable stake.
Doyle was the legislator who started the year at a political high - as the top House budget writer, one of the most influential people in the state - and will end it in prison, serving a 10-month term. He resigned from the Oregon House on January 31.
His offense was lying on his campaign finance reports, hiding the way he shifted money from campaign coffers to cover his personal expenses. His may have been the first case ever of an Oregon legislator serving time for a campaign offense.
Wirth's case, still in process, is more complex, but suggests no less moral culpablity. During a police inquiry of an assault against her - the background of which is still murky - a small amount of methamphetimine was found in her vehicle; she then resigned effective October 15. One could consider the matter serious legally but semi-private in nature up to that point. But then came reports about Wirth drastically increasing pay for some of her aides - most notably her mother, a woman now receiving about $6,000 a month, who according to news reports seldom was seem in Wirth's statehouse office.
The question: What effect do these cases have on public affairs and politics in Oregon? (more…)