, one of three candidates running to be Metro Council President, admitted today that he made a claim on his Oregon Voters' Pamphlet statement
that is untrue.
In the section titled "Occupational Background," Burkholder wrote "Co-founded Cloudburst Recycling." Cloudburst is an east-side residential recycling company owned by David and Michela McMahon. David McMahon said today that the company was founded in 1975 and that Burkholder came to work there around 1980.
"He was not a co-founder," McMahon says. "Rex called me a week or so ago and said he made an 'editing lapse.'"
McMahon says he does not hold Burkholder's mis-statement against him. "I still endorse Rex," McMahon says. "I think it was a sincere error, although it seems astonishingly careless."
Making a false statement in the Voters' Pamphlet can be a pretty big deal
Last week, investigators from Oregon Attorney General John Kroger's office seized
the computer of West Linn Mayor Patti Galle as part of an investigation into whether Galle misrepresented her educational credentials in her Voters' Pamphlet statement.
The consequences of an intentional mis-statement can be serious — as made clear by the official form that Burkholder and all other candidates are required to fill out. Here's what candidates must attest to: "All information provided by me on this form (MCED 009) is true to the best of my knowledge."
And the form also spells out the penalty for intentionally misleading voters: "WARNING: Any person who supplies information in the required portion of the voters' pamphlet statement [which includes the "occupational background" section], knowing it to be false, is subject upon conviction to imprisonment for up to five years or to a fine of $100,000, or both."
Burkholder ran successfully for Metro Council in 2000, 2004 and 2008. In none of his prior Voters' Pamphlet statements for those elections did he claim to have co-founded Cloudburst or even to have worked there.
So what changed this time?
Burkholder says that he wanted to include information this year that would show he hasn't always been a government employee and has experienced the difficulties of working for a struggling new business. "Times have changed and the issues are now a lot about jobs and employment," he says.
But he acknowledges the statement he made is false. "I did not co-found Cloudburst Recycling," he says. He says the statement is a "scrivener's error" that resulted in a last-minute rush to condense his work experience for the Voters' Pamphlet. Burkholder says he did not proof-read the final version that went to elections officials.
"It's a mistake and I take full responsibility," he says. "I should have read it before it went out." He explains that when his staff was preparing a subsequent version for the League of Women Voters' pamphlet, he noticed the error. "I said 'that's not right,' and I called [Cloudburst owner] David McMahon to apologize immediately."
Burkholder is locked in a tight race with former 1000 Friends of Oregon Executive Director Bob Stacey and former Hillsboro Mayor Tom Hughes.