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October 26th, 2005 Nick Budnick | News Stories
 

News At 11...

Salem cops say KATU reporter may become part of Wirth investigation.

     
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If you thought the saga of state Rep. Kelley Wirth couldn't get any more bizarre, you're wrong.

In September, a Capitol janitor's girlfriend allegedly ran down the 40-year-old Democratic lawmaker from Corvallis because the woman suspected Wirth (right) of sleeping with her boyfriend. Then, in October, Wirth was charged with possessing meth found in her car.

Now, longtime TV reporter Eric Mason, who works in KATU's Salem bureau, could be dragged into the whole mess because Wirth—who denied the relationship with the janitor—has claimed a romantic relationship with Mason.

Salem police Det. Alan Graham told WW the alleged relationship could become a factor in the ongoing investigation, though he would not say how.

According to a KATU broadcast, the night Wirth was run down by a car, she met with Mason shortly beforehand "to discuss her political future." She resigned Oct. 14 after the meth charge was filed.

After Wirth was hit, Mason continued to cover the charges against Wirth and her resignation. But Mason has not been reporting lately and appears to be on leave from KATU. Asked whether his absence from the air has to do with Wirth, Mason referred questions to an employment lawyer he says is representing him in a "contractual dispute" with KATU. He says he's had no significant contact with Wirth in the past year but, citing reporter-source confidentiality, declined to characterize their earlier interaction.

 
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