Gov. Kate Brown this afternoon withdrew her endorsement for Amanda La Bell, the Working Families Party candidate for a Bend House seat.
As the Bend Bulletin and WW reported this morning, La Bell falsely claimed in her Voters' Pamphlet statement to have earned a bachelor's degree from Valdosta State [Ga.] University. The registrar's office told WW, however that she had attended for just one semester and never graduated.
Submitting false information on a Voters' Pamphlet statement is a violation of Oregon elections law and can be charged as a class C felony. (The House Republicans today filed an elections complaint against La Bell.)
Brown said today's news cost La Bell the governor's backing.
"It's important to me that Oregonians know who they're voting for and that candidates are honest about their history," Brown said in a statement. "Based on this new revelation, I am withdrawing my endorsement of Amanda La Bell."
Ray Zaccaro, a spokesman for Merkley also said today's news ended Merkley's interest in helping La Bell.
"Sen. Merkley is withdrawing his support," Zaccaro says.
In a statement this afternoon, La Bell offered an explanation and an apology, saying she'd dropped out of college because of family and and financial pressures.
"I felt a deep sense of guilt and shame at not being able to achieve the milestone of a college degree," La Bell said.
"It is this sense of shame that led me, many years ago, to write on my LinkedIn profile that I had received a Bachelors of Arts from Valdosta State University. This was then picked up and repeated on my online work profile. This was again repeated in my Voter's Pamphlet Statement. Neither my campaign nor I knowingly made false claims in the Voter's Pamphlet Statement. I realize that claiming to have earned a Bachelor's degree is unacceptable and wrong, and I express my profound apologies to all affected by this."
It will now be up to the secretary of state's elections division to evaluate La Bell's explanation. It's worth noting, however, that when candidates submit information for their Voters' Pamphlet statement, the instructions are explicit:
"The information required by law—pertaining to occupation, occupational background, educational background and prior governmental experience—
is certified as true by the candidate."