The group "Enough Courtney" has launched a second broadside against Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem), this time over hiring his wife—and protecting her position on his staff.
The group initially hammered Courtney over his opposition to National Popular Vote legislation, which would award Oregon's electoral college vote to the winner of the national popular vote when a majority of the electoral college pass similar legislation.
Courtney has repeatedly blocked that law.
Courtney, 74, is the longest serving Senate president in state history, serving eight terms, and has generally breezed through to reelection. He is officially running for reelection and is so far unopposed.
The new ad, also paid for by National Popular Vote, released today attacks Courtney's support for exempting the state legislative staff from nepotism laws. (The group has disclosed expenditures of nearly $28,000 so far.)
Courtney employed his wife and led the Senate at the time, but it's not clear that he was responsible for the exemption.
The Oregonian's Gordon Friedman recently provided the full rundown of legislators who hire family members.
Courtney's wife served on his staff for "nearly 20 years—long enough to qualify for a state pension," The Oregonian reported. (Courtney's office says she already had a pension from teaching.)
"The issue of being able to hire family members is always going to be there," Courtney told The Oregonian while defending the decision to hire his wife.
"I wish my wife was still [working] here. She's the greatest employee I ever had," he told The Oregonian. "The public—my gosh they liked her. I had people calling me up, they wanted to talk to Margie because they heard about her. They didn't want to talk to me."
A report by the Oregon Government Ethics Work Group did not oppose the nepotism exemption in 2007.
The new ad also implies opposition to Courtney's position on pension reform. (Disclosure: This reporter's husband works for AFSCME Council 75, which lobbies against pension reforms.)
In September, Courtney responded to criticism of his position on National Popular Vote legislation.
"Changing the way Oregon's electoral votes are cast is a decision that should be made by Oregon voters," Courtney told WW. "I've made it clear that I would support putting the issue on the ballot. If you believe in the popular vote, then let the popular vote decide the issue."