Nathan Monson, who served as the Oregon Legislature’s equity officer, filed notice today of his intent to sue the state and various lawmakers.
Monson relocated from Iowa in April of last year to take a job that entailed fielding and, when appropriate, investigating claims of misconduct against legislative personnel, including elected lawmakers.
In a tort claim notice filed by his attorneys, Kim Sordyl and Michael Fuller, Monson alleges that legislative leadership and the Legislature’s Conduct Committee never supported him or his work.
He says that when he arrived in Salem, bills from previous investigations had not been paid, complaints had been ignored, and officials who were not supposed to be involved with his work interfered. Monson says he was forced out of his position June 15, after little more than two months on the job. (Monson says members of the Joint Conduct Committee, to whom he reported, accused him of falsifying his résumé, which he denies.)
Monson’s position was created after a 2019 settlement between the Legislature and the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries following a scandal over the harassing behavior of then-state Sen. Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg). In the BOLI settlement, Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) and House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) pledged to reform the Capitol’s bare-bones disciplinary process.
Monson says in his tort claim notice lawmakers have failed to make much progress toward policing themselves.
“It has been almost three years since the BOLI settlement was signed,” the notice says. “Yet, the Legislative Equity Office remains vacant, complaints ignored.”
Danny Moran, a spokesman for Kotek, says that Monson reported to the Joint Conduct Committee, a bipartisan panel made up of members from both chambers, rather than the presiding officers. Moran says that governance structure arose from the BOLI settlement and was endorsed by the Oregon Law Commission, an independent body.
He nonetheless provided a joint statement from Kotek and Courtney.
“The Capitol should be a safe and welcoming environment for everyone,” the presiding officers said. “We remain firmly committed to that fundamental goal and the ongoing work it requires. Because this is pending litigation, we cannot comment further.”