The Multnomah County Attorney has invited a good-government advocate to sue over whether County Commissioner Loretta Smith is improperly running for office in violation of county charter.
Smith announced her intentions to run for a Portland City Hall seat the same day that City Commissioner Dan Saltzman announced his plans to retire next year.
Last week, the Oregon Secretary of State's office issued a determination that under state elections law Smith's actions constituted an actual campaign, despite the fact she has not formally filed to run.
And Smith was fined $250 by the state for failing to properly re-register her campaign committee.
But the bigger problem for Smith was whether that determination would force her to resign her post as county commissioner.
County charter requires commissioners running for other office to resign if they get into the race more than a year from the end of term.
It's not clear whether the state's definition of running for office technically applies to the definitions in the county charter. And the county attorney has not reached a determination, according to an email.
"The alleged violation of Charter section 4.20, running in the midterm, raises policy and process questions that require further consideration," writes Jenny Madkour to Seth Woolley, who filed a complaint about Smith's campaign fundraising and campaign with the county. "I cannot comment on the timeline of that work.
"You may opt to pursue this matter in court. If so, you or your attorney can contact me directly to discuss further."
Woolley argues county officials should remove Smith from office without asking him to sue.
"I fail to comprehend why a local official would be asking a member of the public to pursue matters in court that are the stated duty of the same local official per county code, as outlined in the original complaint," says Woolley.
"When we passed Measure 26-184 [the campaign contribution limits passed last year by voters], the County Commissioners tried to send it to a validation action without County Attorney support. Public outcry changed their position on that. But it appears they are going back to their default position of 'you do it.' What are we taxpayers paying for, anyways?"
Smith's campaign could not immediately be reached for comment.