For the second time in a week, a young woman who worked for Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith has gone public with scathing criticism of Smith's behavior and managerial style.
On Feb. 2, WW first reported a letter of complaint from a currrent Smith staffer, MeeSeon Kwon, who accused Smith of abusive behavior and improperly using public resources for political purposes.
Smith denied any wrongdoing, and turned the complaint over to the county's human resources department and to the office of Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, who is responsible for elections-related complaints.
"I'm fully confident that I acted appropriately and that the complaint has no merit," Smith said in a statement last week.
But Saba Saleem, 25, a woman who worked in Smith's office in 2014 and 2015, wrote an email to Smith today echoing Kwon's assertions.
Saleem, who was born in Pakistan and moved here with her parents when she was eight years old, sent a copy of the email to county human resources officials and to WW.
"I wanted to address the comment that came out of your office in response to the complaint made by MeeSeon Kwon," Saleem wrote to Smith. "You stated that you were 'fully confident that I acted appropriately and that the complaint has no merit,' Saleem wrote. "As a former staffer who wanted to send you this exact email years ago, I am infuriated by this."
Saleem said in her email that her experience working for Smith mirrored Kwon's.
"Day in and day out, I watched you use county resources for your own personal gain, I watched you treat people as if they are beneath you and always play the victim, I've watched you do as you please, never once believing you should be held accountable for anything. Because you had not done anything wrong. One has to only watch a single board meeting to understand that you have no regard for anyone or anything whatsoever," Saleem wrote.
"Your disregard for the county's employees and its funds was nauseating. You constantly used your County Purchasing Card (PCard) for personal items, 'lost' receipts, and even had bought gift cards as bonuses for employees on it one year. When other staffers and I tried to explain this was against county policy and the public would not have it, you said it was a 'rookie mistake' and that 'they knew they were electing a newbie.' Once is a rookie mistake. And the public did not elect a newbie, they elected someone with two decades of experience working in [U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden]'s office."
Smith issued a statement this afternoon denying the allegations, and expressing alarm that the complaint had not been filed with the county's human resources department.
"Today I was informed of an email received from a former employee regarding her time of service in my office," Smith wrote. "I continue to take these sorts of matters seriously. I remain confident that I have always acted appropriately and that this complaint, like the previous, has no merit. I am, however, alarmed that this former employee claims to have shared these concerns with an "executive employee" whose response was not to follow personnel procedures and open an investigation. Had these complaints been filed appropriately at the time they occurred, we would not be here trying to answer years old allegations surfacing for the first time. As before I take seriously the trust the public has placed in me and I will continue to work hard every day to serve my constituents."