Oregon Lawmaker Files Ethics Complaint Against Union Lobbyist

At issue: a debate whether employees who get COVID-19 should automatically receive workers’ compensation benefits.

State Rep. Daniel Bonham (R-The Dalles) filed an ethics complaint Sept. 2 against Jeff Anderson, a lobbyist for United Food & Commercial Workers Local 555, over Anderson's comments to the NW Labor Press about whether employees who get COVID-19 should automatically receive workers' compensation benefits.

That's a divisive issue in Salem ("Virus Proof," WW, July 29, 2020), and the union, which represents grocery workers, says it's a key issue for its members.

Bonham says Anderson "clearly implied that UFCW's political contributions in the 2020 election cycle would be tied to whether legislators signed a letter expressing support for one of the organization's top legislative priorities." That could violate Oregon ethics laws against trading campaign contributions for influence.

Anderson says he was merely describing what the priorities for the union would be.

"Suggesting that a union can't describe its legislative agenda is a baseless complaint," he tells WW. "Rep. Bonham knows it's baseless because if it did have merit, he himself would be in violation of taking money from a number of organizations that very explicitly telegraph their expectations of legislators: Koch Industries, the gun lobby, and the financial sector, to name a few."

The complaint is under preliminary review by the Oregon Government Ethics Commission.