Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tangled Webs

So the High Sheriff next county over -- Multnomah, which includes Portland, OR -- is under fire. If I had to bet, I'd say that pretty soon, he'll be losing his badge. In this case, this isn't the same as being fired or recalled; state law is kinda strange about such things -- you can't run for the office if you aren't state-certified as a law enforcement officer, but once you have the gig, there's no law says you have to stay certified. He could lose his badge and technically continue on as sheriff, though probably he'd resign.

The sheriff, call him Bernie, has obviously run afoul of some folks with clout, and it sure seems to me from reading between the lines that somebody set out to get him big-time -- and all but has.

Work as an elected official, you are going to piss some folks off, and since you live under a microscope, if they want to find some dirt, chances are they can. Everybody I know has a few skeletons in their closet they wouldn't want dragged out into the cold light of day.

Bernie is under siege for rather interesting reasons. There was a laundry list of complaints, most of which were quickly dismissed. The two most important ones seem to be these: A few years back, the former governor of the state, let's call him ... Neil ... went public with a nasty revelation (only because a local weekly muckraking rag was about to put it into print): Seems that when Neil was the mayor of Portland, back in the early 1970's, he had a sexual relationship with someone not his wife.

That someone was a fourteen-year-old girl, the daughter of a campaign worker.

By general accounts, the girl was advanced for her age and already sexually active, but still -- she was fourteen.

Not the smartest move for a politician, statutory rape.

This was mostly kept hushed up, but when Fred, a speechwriter for the governor who seemed to feel as if he had not gotten proper respect during the administration came forward to indicate that the secret wasn't entirely so, the shit hit the fan. Lots of it, blades whirling on high speed, and anybody remotely connected to it ducked and ran for cover.

Legally, there was nothing to be done: after thirty years, the statute of limitations was long-expired. Neil had provided a certain amount of financial support for the girl/woman over the years, for counseling and such, and while the new knowledge put a major tarnish on his halo, he wasn't going to go to jail. He might be disbarred as a lawyer, but he was retired anyhow.

The questions then became: Who knew what? and When did they know it? Lotta folks being tarred with that brush at the moment, including the current governor of the state.

The local Portland paper, scooped and beaten to the punch by the weekly and in high dudgeon because of it, unleashed the hounds. People talked, complaints were lodged, and as is now coming to light, Bernie's assertations that he only found out about the affair at a late date seem to have been less than forthcoming.

See, Bernie was the Guv's driver/bodyguard when he was in the Oregon State Police, and privy to information most folks didn't hear. It was his job to protect the Guv, and one of the threats would have been a young woman stepping up and allowing as how the Guv had been her lover when she was in junior high. And since she apparently called from time-to-time, it was a real worry. At least as much trouble as getting caught toe-tapping in the airport toilet stall. Oregonians aren't bothered overmuch by gay folks; sleeping with the children by adults is frowned upon.

Apparently there was some chance of this all coming to light, and the Guv bowed out of a second term election, ostensibly to spend time working on his failing marriage.

To complicate things more, Bernie was also spending a lot of time with the Guv's then-wife, Margie, shuttling her back and forth and what-not, and the what-not eventually became what-ho ...

Bernie allows as how he did have an affair with Margie, but only after she and her husband split up. Bernie was unmarried.

Other sources have indicated that the affair began well before the Neil/Margie split. Margie refuses to address it, saying it is nobody's business.

At some point, these rumors got back to Bernie's boss in the state police, and when called on the carpet and asked about it, he denied it. Nope. Not shagging the boss's wife, nossir. And that was the end of that, far as OSP were concerned.

Because my wife used to be a lobbyist and worked for the Guv, I met and talked to all these folks at one time or another back in the late eighties when Neil was running the state.

Bernie and I used to stand around and talk handgun ballistics at various state functions when he was working and I was arm-candy for my wife.

I didn't know about the Guv's previous affair at the time, of course, not being close to any of the players. And stuff like this goes right over my wife's head -- she was stunned when she found out about the Guv when it hit the papers. Most of his staff never had a clue.

It's a shame how all this old karma slouches round to ensnare folks long after the deeds. Bernie didn't have anything to do with the original crime; nor was he required to say anything once he found out, because the statute had expired; however, when asked about it, he apparently said he didn't know, and it is now coming to light that he did. The certification board holds LEO's to a higher standard, and they frown upon lying to investigators.

So it looks as if it's gonna cost him his job. Too bad. I liked the guy. He was sharp, ambitious, and knew his handguns. And once again, the chickens came home to roost.

Karma, like rust, never sleeps.


Dan Gambiera said...

Ah, but knowing about a felony while it was being committed and failing to report it is...a crime. The statute has expired, but if this is all true he broke the law and covered up his crime. Bad form.

I'm ticked at him for releasing the names of all the CCW holders in the County. I'm not sure if he gave away addresses and SSNs as well, but there are rumors to that effect.

Steve Perry said...

Actually, I'm not sure that's true. If I pass by a guy running out of the Stop'n'Rob with a bag of money in hand and a gun in the other, am I legally required to report it or face criminal charges?

What he knew and when makes the difference.

Did he lie? Looks like he did. But were the lies themselves crimes? I dunno.

If the statute of limitations had expired before Bernie heard about the incident, then it wouldn't be something that would matter, reporting-wise.

Sleeping with the boss's wife might be less-than-clever, but probably not something going to be prosecuted as a crime, either a felony or misdemeanor.

What exactly he knew and what he covered up are the questions, and so far, nobody has proven anything.

If you get a CCW, it becomes a matter of public record, and you have to assume The Oregonian will go after that info sooner or later. The Sheriff might kick and refuse to let that information out initially, but I'm guessing sooner or later, he'll have to give it up. Bernie hates the press, near as I can tell, and I think he would have given them the finger instead of the intel if he had a choice.

Of course, it's been some years since I talked to him, so I dunno for sure.