In Oregon when legislators have an actual conflict of interest on a matter, they have to vote anyway. Oregon is one of two states to require that.
In Oregon, there is no way for the ethics commission to accept anonymous complaints. That can be good because it can cut down on frivolous complaints and enables an accused to face their accuser. It may also have a chilling effect on some people making complaints. Oregon does have whistleblower protections. They only help someone after they are fired or retaliated against.
In Oregon, members of the state ethics commission can be unilaterally removed by the governor for any reason. Maybe the governor should have that power and be held accountable for how it is used. But it also may limit the independence of the commission.
And finally in Oregon, members of the ethics commission can work on political campaigns, donate to them, make endorsements, run for office themselves and more. That could lead to questions about their impartiality. Some states prohibit those activities by commission members.
Those are just some of the issues identified in a recent Secretary of State audit of Oregon’s ethics policies. Do you think any of them should be changed? Contact your legislator or write us a letter to the editor of up to 250 words and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.