Portland Auditor Mary Hull Caballero Returns to City Council With Modified Ethics Reforms

Mayor Charlie Hales had blasted a previous proposal that sought stronger ethics rules.

Portland Auditor Mary Hull Caballero is returning to City Council on Wednesday with a slightly reworked version of the ethics proposal Mayor Charlie Hales blasted in April as puzzling and unnecessary, and this time she has the backing of Commissioner Nick Fish and better odds of seeing her reforms enacted.

The biggest change to the auditor's proposal concerns the rule that prevents elected officials, bureau directors and at-will staff of elected officials from returning to City Hall as lobbyists for one year. The City Council approved that rule in 2005, but Caballero wanted to extend the ban to two years.

Hales and Commissioner Dan Saltzman balked, and now Caballero has backed down. Slightly.

"The political culture in Oregon is honorable," Hales claimed in the April discussion. "What's on the books since 2005 hasn't made a difference."

Caballero's new proposal keeps the two-year ban only for elected officials and bureau directors. At-will staff of elected officials, including current employees of the departing mayor, will continue to face only a one-year ban. At-will staff members who are paid by the hour (and tend to be low-level employees) will be exempt from the ban entirely.

Other aspects of Caballero's proposal remain the same. Right now, lobbying groups have to report their activity if they spend more than eight hours per quarter lobbying. That rule would change to require reporting if a group spends more than eight hours or $1,000 per quarter.

Also, Caballero's proposal increases possible fines on violators, from $500 to $3,000 per violation.

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