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Report: Lawmaker Files Ethics Complaint Over Lobbyist's Presumption Comment

Tuesday, September 29, 2020 | 1151 | 0 | 12 min read

An Oregon lawmaker filed an ethics complaint against a lobbyist who reportedly said his union would use support for a COVID-19 presumption as a litmus test when deciding where to direct campaign contributions, according to a report by Willamette Week.

Rep. Daniel Bonham

Rep. Daniel Bonham
(Ballotpedia photo)

State Rep. Daniel Bonham, R-The Dalles, on Sept. 2 filed the complaint against Jeff Anderson, a lobbyist for the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 555. Anderson told Willamette Week that the complaint is baseless.

Bonham alleges Anderson violated state laws that prohibit trading contributions for influence when he told the NW Labor Press that the union’s contributions for the 2020 election “would be tied to whether legislators signed a letter expressing support for one of the organization’s top legislative priorities.”

NW Labor Press, in a Sept. 1 article, reported that Anderson said the union is asking lawmakers to sign a letter indicating their support for a presumption that COVID-19 is compensable. Anderson reportedly said the union will not contribute to anyone who doesn’t sign the letter and would instead consider using the money to provide legal assistance for workers whose claims for COVID-19 were denied.

Anderson told Willamette Week that he was merely describing union priorities. He said Bonham knows the complaint is baseless and that the Republican lawmaker himself “would be in violation of taking money from a number of organizations that very explicitly telegraph their expectation of legislators,” including Koch Industries, the “gun lobby” and the “financial sector.”

Oregon’s Management-Labor Advisory Committee, at the request of Gov. Kate Brown, met six times over the summer to discuss how the state’s comp system is handling claims for COVID-19. The committee was unable to reach a consensus as to whether state law should presume the disease caused by the new coronavirus is occupational.

The Workers’ Compensation Division is contemplating a temporary rule that would implement the recommendation from management representatives to the committee that would require carriers to conduct a reasonable investigation before denying COVID-19 claims.

Meanwhile, an MLAC subcommittee appears poised to discuss labor’s presumption proposal Oct. 9. A draft bill discussed during a meeting Thursday would create a presumption for essential workers including first responders, medical providers, teachers and retail workers.

The MLAC subcommittee meets from 1-4 p.m. Oct. 9. More information is here.

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