Meet Knute Buehler – Ethically Challenged From the Start
Ethics Panel Unanimously Ruled OR-Gov Candidate Hid Payments
Oregon state Rep. Knute Buehler enters the race for governor with a cloud of ethics concerns looming over his campaign. Most notably, Buehler was caught this year trying to hide a series of payments from Stryker Orthopedics and other medical companies on his personal financial disclosures. As one columnist from the The Bend Bulletin notes, the scandal is particularly embarrassing for Buehler who was seen as a “crusader” against money in politics.
Here’s a roundup of the coverage:
The Oregon Government Ethics Commission on Friday found that Rep. Knute Buehler failed to disclose $12,500 in payments he received for serving on the board of a Bend hospital.
With the first two allegations, Democratic Party of Oregon officials claimed Buehler skirted ethics rules requiring public officials to disclose their sources of income.
They said Buehler, an orthopedic surgeon, didn’t note speaking fees and consulting payments from medical device manufacturer Stryker Corp. and drug maker Pfizer Inc. The complaint said Buehler may have wanted to hide the payments to avoid being linked to the companies, which have received bad publicity.
The Oregon Government Ethics Commission found, however, that Buehler failed to disclose $12,500 in payments he received in 2013 for serving on the board of a Bend hospital and issued a letter of education last month.
The Bend Bulletin: Erik Lukens: Buehler made himself an easy ethics target
In this context, the company, regardless of its actual reason for being, allows Buehler not to report income on his ethics filings that otherwise he’d have to report. It hardly matters that the information is readily available elsewhere in the public domain or that the company, according to state filings, predates Buehler’s legislative tenure by many years. It looks bad.
This appearance is particularly troubling for Buehler, who’s a crusader on the topic of money in politics. This legislative session, for instance, Buehler has inveighed against “pay to play” politics and promised to fight the ability of unions and businesses with state contracts to contribute money to political candidates. Ouch.
The Bend Bulletin: Buehler admonished for not disclosing St. Charles payment
State Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, will receive an admonishment but avoid a fine for failing to disclose a $12,500 payment he received from a Bend hospital in 2013.
The Oregon Government Ethics Commission voted 6-0 Friday to send Buehler a letter explaining how he violated state law by not reporting the income he received as a member of the St. Charles Health System board of directors. It could have required him to pay up to $5,000.
Nearly a month after the Democratic Party of Oregon filed an ethics complaint against Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend., a Democratic lawmaker has introduced legislation that would close what the party calls the “Buehler loophole” in state laws governing required public disclosure of payments to elected officials by those who do business with the state.
Register-Guard: Editorial: Buehler’s challenges
Presuming Buehler can present himself as a plausible leader — a presentation Democrats will work to prevent, emphasizing the more conservative aspects of the Republican’s record and ensuring that no one forgets an Oregon Government Ethics Commission’s finding that he failed to disclose income — the question will be whether he can whet Oregonians’ appetite for change.
“Knute Buehler enters the race for governor under a massive ethical cloud,”said DGA Communications Director Jared Leopold. “Buehler was already caught hiding payments once, and used his company to skirt disclosure laws on others. Now that he is officially in the race for governor, Oregon voters deserve to know if Knute Buehler will still try to abuse these laws or clean up his act once and for all.”