Thursday, May 31, 2007

Betsy Johnson F's Up

Nigel Jacquiss at Willy Week and the Walth/Esteve team at The O are serving up a double scoop of trouble for Senator Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose).

The O team notes that Johnson failed to disclose a land sale on her Standards and Practices paperwork--and that sale and subsequent legislation helped Johnson rake in some cash:

In late 2004, state Sen. Betsy Johnson bought 36 acres of farmland for $635,000 in her hometown of Scappoose next to the airport.

Three months later, she sold the land to a developer for a $119,000 profit.

And within weeks, Johnson introduced a bill in the Legislature to promote special airport access for private landowners -- something the developer needed to turn the land into an industrial park catering to the aviation business.

Johnson, D-Scappoose, failed to disclose her ownership and sale of the 36 acres at the time, as state law requires. The Oregonian on Wednesday questioned Johnson about the deal, and she acknowledged that she should have listed the property on her state ethics forms.

"I readily admit I made a mistake," Johnson said in an interview at the Capitol. "I am culpable."

Johnson reported the deal to the Oregon Government Standards and Practices Commission after being interviewed by the newspaper.

The commission probably will review Johnson's failure to disclose her interest in the property. If an investigation shows she broke the law, she faces a fine.

Nigel makes note of Johnson's support of Senate Bill 30 which would keep destination resorts away from the Metolius River Basin:

One bill that has raised questions is Senate Bill 30, which passed the Senate last week. The bill aims to ban further development near the Metolius River, whose headwaters Johnson's family donated to the state and near which she owns a 160-acre retreat. Johnson has been criticized by the Bend Bulletin and others because by cutting off further development in the area, the bill will increase the value of her property.

I tried to call Senator Johnson's office this afternoon to find out some specifics on the retreat and anticipated land values. No answer--but I did leave a message. I'm curious to see if they'll Larry George me or if they'll actually call me back.

Of course the rightosphere bloggers think they've uncovered some sort of seeping Democratic corruption because one person was a bonehead. Yet they're all strangely silent when GOP legislators loudly crow their support for M37 while prepping their own M37 claims. And barely a note about the Oregon GOPs serious corruption problem with lobbyist paid trips to Hawaii.

The Oregon GOP truly has a culture of corruption. Bellowing about Johnson doesn't begin to fix their problems.

Johnson should have to take her lumps. She deserves them. But she's hardly representative of the Democrats in the Oregon Legislature.