A Portland law firm contracted by the state issued a memo to the Legislature recommending they ban Sen. Brian Boquist (R-Dallas) from the building after he seemingly threatened Oregon State Police troopers and Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem).
The memo was reportedly written by attorney Brenda Baumgart of the Portland-based law firm Stoel Rives. Baumgart claims Boquist’s comments caused “members and branch employees” to report a fear for themselves or others working in the Capitol. Baumgart noted it is common practice to disallow someone making violent threats in a workplace from returning until the employer can assure other employees’ safety.
The legislature now requests independent law firms to review workplace safety concerns in the Capitol. Courtney’s staff told reporters the Senate President has not banned Boquist, and that he has “done all he can” about him.
Boquist stayed out of the Capitol voluntarily on Saturday, June 29, but made a brief appearance on Sunday morning. Democrats including Sen. Shemia Fagan (D-Portland) opposed his presence, citing the formal complaint.
Boquist caught some national media last week during the early stages of the nine day walkout. When it became known Republican Senators intended to walk out once again, Governor Kate Brown stated she willing to use the authority of the state police to compel the Senators to return.
“If you send the state police to get me, hell’s coming to visit you personally,” Boquist responded publicly on the Senate floor on June 19, directed at Courtney.
His anger was not limited to political opponents.
“This is what I told [OSP Superintendent Travis Hampton]: send bachelors and come heavily armed.” Boquist told reporters. “I’m not going to be a political prisoner in the state of Oregon. It’s just that simple.”
The senior Democrat again faces extreme misconduct from a fellow Senator claims he cannot offer a proportional response. Similar to when he was unable to offer a satisfactory response when Capitol staffers and Senator Sara Gelser (D-Corvallis) publicized sexual harassment complaints against former Senator Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg) in 2017, public confidence in Courtney’s control over the chamber seems to be slipping.
By Ian MacRonald