State Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (D-Portland) has subleased Portland office space from Gary Oxley, a lobbyist whose big business clients include Altria/Philip Morris, Apple, Amazon, Fred Meyer and the health care giant McKesson Corp.

Steiner Hayward is one of Salem's most powerful figures by dint of her position as co-chair of the budget-writing Joint Ways and Means Committee. A family physician and faculty member at Oregon Health & Science University, she's also one of the state's leading anti-tobacco voices and sponsored a 2017 law that raised the age at which Oregonians could buy tobacco to 21.

So her position and politics make the sublease all the more surprising.

Steiner Hayward asked the Oregon Government Ethics Commission for approval, noting she was paying market rent and would not grant Oxley or his staff special access. The Ethics Commission OK'd the deal.

Steiner Hayward says the office space in the Medical Dental Building on Southwest 11th Avenue, owned by the Eastern Western Corp., is "a convenience, nothing more, nothing less" while the Capitol is closed during the pandemic.

"It was important to me to be above board about this," Steiner Hayward says. "That's why I got the opinion from the Ethics Commission. If they had concerns, they would have said so."