SALEM — The Democratic Party of Oregon alleged Tuesday that a suburban Portland apartment rented by Republican gubernatorial candidate Knute Buehler is his actual home and he should therefore be forced to resign from representing Bend in the state House.
Buehler’s campaign immediately called the claim “desperate and meaningless.”
At a Tuesday press conference, Democratic State Chair Jeanne Atkins said she had asked Secretary of State Dennis Richardson to investigate Buehler’s residency status.
“He’s unapologetically telling the media that he’s moved to Tualatin,” said Atkins, a former Secretary of State. “Not only is this disingenuous — his actions are in clear violation of the Oregon Constitution.”
In a recent interview with The Bulletin in Wilsonville, just south of Tualatin, Buehler confirmed that he was spending much of his time in Tualatin, where his campaign has its headquarters.
He said the area is more convenient to reach the dominant Portland-area media and to travel throughout the state.
“It’s just easier to get around,” Buehler said.
But Buehler said his home remained the $921,000 house in Bend on Rivermist Drive he owns with his wife, Patricia. Buehler’s campaign underlined the distinction Tuesday.
“The Buehlers’ Bend residence is where Patty spends most of her time, where they are registered to vote, where their cars are registered and where they continue to pay their property taxes — all the legal requirements for residency,” said Monica Wroblewski, the Buehler campaign spokesperson.
If he were to lose the governor’s race, Buehler said last month he would return to Bend full time — though he wants to have a different address after the November election.
“My mail will be hopefully going to Mahonia Hall,” Buehler said, referring to the governor’s mansion in Salem.
Atkins said she believed Buehler specifically violated Article IV, Section 8 (7)(a) of the Oregon Constitution, which states:
“A person may not be a Senator or Representative if the person at all times during the term of office of the person as a Senator or Representative is not an inhabitant of the district from which the Senator or Representative may be chosen or which the Senator or Representative has been appointed to represent.”
As evidence that Buehler has moved, Atkins cited a recent 1190 KEX radio interview and Portland Tribune article in which Buehler said he was living in Tualatin.
“The first house we bought was in Tualatin. After 25 years, I told my wife, ‘We’ve come full circle. Now we’re living in an apartment,’” Buehler is quoted as saying in the Tribune article.
Buehler established his campaign headquarters in Tualatin last year when he announced his candidacy for governor. It is near the offices of Rebecca Tweed, his campaign manager until the recent hiring of veteran national political operative Bryan Reed. Reed will also work out of Tualatin. Buehler held his May 15 primary election-night victory party at McMenamins Old Church and Pub in Wilsonville, just south of Tualatin. He traveled to Bend for a second victory party.
The Legislature is not slated to convene again until January 2019. A new representative will be chosen between Republican Cheri Helt and Democrat Nathan Boddie, who are running in the Nov. 6 general election.
— Reporter: 541-640-2750, firstname.lastname@example.org