Oregon’s Legislature: A Family Affair

Recent revelations in the Oregonian indicate that a quarter of Oregon’s current legislators employ family members as legislative staff. Other current legislators have employed family members in the past. These positions vary from low to high level employees. Long-employed family members have qualified for PERS benefits.

When asked about hiring family members, legislators generally answer that their family member is the best qualified person and is the best able to serve. Really? The role of legislative staff is to serve the people of Oregon, not the legislator. There are obvious conflicts of interest when close family members are employed by legislators, including undue influence, lack of qualifications and skills, lack of honest performance reviews, difficulty in firing a family member, disruptive effect on other employees, bickering among employed family members.…. the list goes on. When Oregon’s legislators are serving, they are not running a mom and pop convenience store. Oregon’s legislators make laws and oversee a $20 billion plus general fund budget and a $80 billion plus all funds budget. This is the people’s money. Oregonians need to have highly competent, knowledgeable and professional staff to best serve the interests of the State. This staff should not be created from spouses, children and relatives. It is ILLEGAL for federal legislators to hire their family members. That is the model that Oregon should emulate.

It is time to create a new Oregon legislature comprised of new people with new ideas and new abilities. Oregon needs new people who are serious-minded and professionally committed to creating a highly performing new legislature to serve and move our state forward. We need common sense term limits in Oregon. Oregon needs to replace current legislators who have created and believe in an amateurish legislature with new legislators who will lead our state to a brighter future in a highly competitive world.