Jackson County Leadership: No Investigation By Oregon Secretary Of State

JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. — Oregon’s Secretary of State found no basis for a complaint by local citizens’ group Jackson County For All (JCFA) which alleged County leaders did not investigate measures proposed for the upcoming May primary ballot and coerced County officials. Chief petitioner, Denise Krause for JCFA is continuing to campaign against violations she alleges may be taking place in the council.

JFCA proposed three measures on the May primary ballot to restructure Jackson County’s Board of Commissioners: To convert the position of commissioner from a partisan one to nonpartisan, increase the number of commissioners from the existing three to five, and decrease their salaries. Krause says the measures were not investigated and sent a cease and desist letter to county officials on February 27.

Public employees may not promote or oppose an initiative according to state law, but this does not apply to elected officials.


Allegations That Jackson County Leaders Put Pressure On Public Employees

JCFA says that discussions by Jackson County leadership- including the current commissioners, county administrator, and county counsel, have been one-sided.  On February 15 County Administrator Danny Jordan, who has prepared the county budget for 20 years, presented a budget indicating that the proposed measures would cost the county at least $200,000, and possibly as much as $700,000.

These costs included health insurance and office materials as well as once-off construction costs estimated at between $380,000 and $480,000. Jordan’s figures projected first-year costs from $592,619 to $692,619. JCFA estimates predict costs will be $45,480.98.

Read: Jackson County Commissioners Accused Of Election Law Violations

While Kruase alleged that the county violated ORS (Oregon Revised Statute) 260.523 by coercing, commanding, and/or requiring public employees to take actions, senior assistant county council, Madison Simmons indicated in a letter to Jordan on March 4 that “there were no major issues or potential violations as alleged.”

According to Simmons, the cease and desist letter lacked enough information to support Krause’s allegations. Without sufficient evidence, Simmons could not find that commissioners, the county,  Jordan, or any other county employees had violated ORS 260.432.


Statements From Oregon Secretary Of State on Jackson County Allegations

Krause sent a request for investigation sent to the Secretary of State (SoS) on February 29. The compliance specialist for SoS,  Stephanie Darcy, indicated that the complaint did not yield enough evidence to open an investigation. As a result, the elections division declined to investigate.

From the county, Jordan said, thanked the Secretary of State, calling Krause’s complaint “baseless allegations.”

Darcy confirmed that the SoS did not find any possible violations presented in the complaint or any indication that a public employee had been directed to engage in political advocacy. Public employees preparing neutral, factual information on how the measure would affect a public agency does not contravene state law.


JCFA To Submit Further Data

Krause has indicated that JCFA will submit more information to the state but their main goal is to stop violations. She ran for the position of Board of Commissioner as a Democrat on a previous occasion and announced her current candidacy this week for the seat being vacated by Republican Dave Dotterrer. If successful, she will be the single Democrat on a Republican dominated board.

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