Saturday, May 15, 2021
May 15, 2021

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Lawmaker says harassment by colleague was ‘unacceptable’

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BEND, Ore. (AP) — A Republican lawmaker in Oregon who says she was subjected to sexual harassment by Rep. Brad Witt, D-Clatskanie, said he responded inappropriately when she asked him to support a bill.

“I asked for a yes vote,” Rep. Vikki Breese Iverson of Prineville told the Central Oregon Daily News. “He responded with some questions. I responded to his questions. He interjected with, going out for a beer, going out for dinner, dot dot dot. I continued to ignore those and just give the answers to the questions he had asked, and the last text that came through was just unacceptable.”

Breese’s comments to the news outlet provided more detail about the exchanges she says prompted her to file a complaint with the Legislative Equity Office. Breese Iverson has asked that House Speaker Tina Kotek remove Witt from the three legislative committees they both serve on.

Kotek’s office said Tuesday she was setting up a meeting with the legislative equity officer, who fields harassment complaints.

An independent investigator looking into the complaint recommended that Witt be barred from contacting or coming near Breese Iverson and that he be removed from chairing the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, of which Breese Iverson is a member.

Following Witt volunteering to step down temporarily as committee chair, Kotek formally made that change Monday. In a note to lawmakers, she said Witt also would not attend virtual committee hearings.

Witt has said he believes “101% that it will be found that there was no ill intent on my part whatsoever, but rather an attempt to further the committee interests.”

An independent investigation is expected to conclude by the end of April. The matter would then go before the House Conduct Committee to consider whether Witt violated legislative rules, and whether there should be consequences.

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