Thursday, June 07, 2007

The O piece on Betsy Johnson continues to unravel

Last week's O piece on Senator Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) main "sleaze factor" point was (essentially) that Johnson had sold land to a developer and then worked to get legislation passed that would give the developer extra sweet access to the Scappoose Airport.

Our story yesterday blows that meme to smithereens. The developer already had that particular access to the airport, based on an ordinance from May 2005 which granted that access via permit.{pdf}

In other words, the O is accusing Johnson of trying to pass legislation to benefit a land deal. Only the benefit for that land already existed, so what the O is accusing makes zero sense.

Unfortunately, the problems with the O's story don't end there.

They go on to say:

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.

On the technical merits, this paragraph is correct. Johnson didn't report the land or sale during the reporting cycle for which it occured. However, she did report the land on her Standards and Practices form in 2007.{pdf}

This reporting took place well BEFORE the Oregonian story. The piece seems to infer that Johnson was trying to hide the sale and didn't report it until she was caught.

If that's the case, then obviously she wouldn't have bothered to report it BEFORE the story broke.

Also obviously, Johnson f'd up by not reporting when she should have. And as she herself admits, she's culpable and should have to pay a fine or whatever Standards and Practices determines is appropriate.

So are we looking at a raft of ongoing corruption, as the Oregonian and local righty blogs seems to indicate? Only if you're trying really hard to make shit up where it doesn't really exist, it seems.

TJ's Update, 2pm--
Just so it doesn't get lost in the shuffle, Katherine Head at the Seaside Signal has a story today discussing Johnson's town hall appearance Sunday in Seaside. This would appear to be one of the meetings Randy Stapilus was referring to; he covered her hometown appearance in St. Helens. Johnson apparently echoed that explanation to the folks in Seaside--I have a message in with Ms. Head to find out what the reaction was of those assembled.