Sam Adams Targeted by Smear Campaign

Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams has yet to declare his intentions for Portland's upcoming Mayoral race, but he's already become the target of nasty a smear campaign by a potential rival; developer Bob Ball. The Oregonian reports that over the past several weeks, Ball approached both City Commissioner Randy Leonard and former Mayor Vera Katz with an unfounded rumor that Adams, who is openly gay, had slept with an underage male intern:

Several weeks ago, Pearl District developer and would-be politician Bob Ball approached Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard with a political bombshell.

He'd heard rumors, Ball told Leonard, that the most likely candidate for mayor, City Commissioner Sam Adams, had been in a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old legislative intern.

It was among the most potentially damaging accusations that could be leveled against a gay politician, particularly one as high profile and ambitious as Adams. And it was coming from another gay man who also was thinking about running for the city's top job.

The problem: The story Ball told about Adams and a 17-year-old legislative intern isn't true, according to both Adams and the young man. Adams acknowledges trying to be a mentor, including exchanging numerous phone calls and text messages with the young man over several months in summer 2005.

But both men said that they have never been anything more than friends.

Leonard and Katz, however, saw the allegation for what it was; a political smear campaign against a possible rival candidate:

Those he told, including Leonard and former Mayor Vera Katz, said they took it as an attempt at political assassination.

In the fallout, Leonard went so far as to tell Ball to give up any hopes of seeking political office: "As long as I've been doing this stuff, and keep in mind that I started in union politics, I've never felt so dirty. I've told Bob, 'You're not running for mayor. You're not running for City Council. You're done.' "

"It's just a despicable thing to put out there about someone, particularly about a gay man," Leonard said. "It's the worst kind of political smear."

Adams explains that he served as a mentor to Beau Breedlove, a 17-year-old legislative intern, after he sought advice from Adams on how to have a career in politics as a gay man:

Yet both men say there was nothing romantic or sexual between them.

"He was a mentor more than anything else," said Breedlove, now 20 and the manager of a restaurant in Michigan. "That was my only interest. That was his only interest."

"I told my staff, 'This is a 17-year-old. Make him feel welcome. Keep an eye on him,' " said Adams, 44. "I listened to his story. I tried to offer my own perspective, given my own background. I could've just said, 'This looks bad, so I can't help you.' But I wanted to help."

"If you wanted to take a jaundiced eye to it, I'm sure there are plenty of situations that you could look at and say maybe I should have just said, 'I'm sorry, I can't talk to you about that,' " he said. "If someone comes to me looking for advice or perspective, I want to be able to offer it. At the same time, I'm very careful. I set boundaries."

Now that the rumor is making headlines, Ball is trying to cover up his involvement:

In an interview last week, Ball said that he'd never heard the rumor and denied he had told it to anyone. Moments later, Leonard said, Ball called to ask whether he had spoken to The Oregonian.

On Monday, after not returning repeated phone messages left over four days, Ball faxed a paragraph-long statement describing his actions as that of a concerned reserve police officer: "Any story here is not about me."

He wrote that he first heard a rumor about Adams having "a relationship with a minor" in July from "an individual close to Sam Adams" and asked a lawyer what to do. The lawyer advised him, he wrote, to inform a public official. That, he said, is why he went to Leonard in early August. He acknowledged telling Katz that he'd heard rumors about Adams, but denied offering any details.

In his statement, Ball did not say why he chose to approach an elected official with his fears rather than a police officer or a social service worker. He also did not say why he opted not to confront Adams directly about what he had heard.

Read the rest. Isn't this the worst kind of politics? Shouldn't the Mayoral race be about what the candidates will do to improve the city, rather than deceitful and nasty character assassinations?

Discuss.

Update:
Adams has posted an open letter responding to the rumor on his website.

Comments

  • Bob R. (unverified)
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    Sam Adams has posted an open letter on his blog:

    http://www.commissionersam.com/node/2801

  • Bob R. (unverified)
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    Willamette Week's version of the story:

    http://www.wweek.com/wwire/?p=9329

  • James X. (unverified)
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    This is really just sad. I've said pretty much all I have to say over at Loaded O and the WW blog. I had hoped for a better campaign.

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    I have a generally positive opinion of Sam Adams and until now I had no real point of view on Bob Ball.

    However, I have now formed an opinion that Bob Ball is a scumbag.

    Having said that, even the smartest, most decent people sometimes let the little head do the thinking instead of the big one. So I will reserve judgment on the substance of this story until we have more facts.

    But that doesn't change my point of view on Bob Ball one iota.

  • ws (unverified)
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    Sad but predictable. Here, it seems to be effectively separating the wheat from the chaff.

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    I saw this on the news last night and was just disgusted and angered. I haven't made up my mind about Sam as mayor and don't plan to anytime soon. I know absolutely nothing about Bob Ball and my first introduction to the man who likely wants to be mayor of my city his back-handed psst in my ear about unsubstantiated rumours from "someone close to Sam" as opposed to oh I don't know, something about why I would want him to be my mayor to begin with. And I love how the news broadcast (I forget which one) had to throw in the fact that Ball is "also" gay, as if it's ok to lend creedance to his rumour mill because, well at least we know it's not about gay-bashing, right? Please. Whatever Ball may have had to offer as mayor has been completely lost to me with this action.

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    "Having said that, even the smartest, most decent people sometimes let the little head do the thinking instead of the big one. So I will reserve judgment on the substance of this story until we have more facts."

    Unfortunately, this is why these types of rumors are so effective; it is extremely hard (if not impossible) to prove a negative. Both Adams and Breedlove have denounced the allegation as completely false, and Ball has absolutely no evidence other than the fact that they were friends, which is not disputed. But while Ball can speculate and draw whatever conclusions he wants from the encounters, there's really no way that Adams can absolutely prove that the relationship never was anything more than that, unless there was a camera crew following his every move the entire time.

    I really feel for Adams on this. All he did was try to be a mentor and a friend to a youth that was dealing with complex issues. If only all of our elected officials could be so accessible and caring. But now he has an unmerited blemish on his reputation, and there will be a footnote about this incident on every news story about Adams for months if not longer.

    It is absolutely shameful that these kind of politics are taking place in our state.

  • Buckman Res (unverified)
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    All right! Nothing like a sex scandal to spice up politics in staid, stuffy old Portland.

    You’d have thought Sam was astute enough to avoid situations with teens that could be mischaracterized by political adversaries who play hardball politics, regardless how sincere his motivations were at the time.

    Shows a surprising lack of awareness on the part of a man with aspirations to higher office.

  • LiberalIncarnate (unverified)
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    I am not particular surprised by this attack. Sam Adams would likely become the first openly gay mayor of Oregon's largest and most powerful city. Can you expect anything less from fear mongers desperate to undo this highly potential outcome using any means necessary?

    Wait until Concerned Oregonians take this story and run with it! The gays are taking over! The gays are taking over!

  • StJohns (unverified)
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    Lets look at the broader picture here. There has not been word of Ball even getting any groups together to explore a run at City Hall. With that said, why would Ball even think about throwing something out there without a staff in place to handle potential fallout? It could be detrimental to anything he wants to do politically as a result.

    Every indication is that Mr. Adams wants that Mayor seat. It would make perfect sense that an Adams supporter whether it be staff or otherwise (we now know his whole staff knew of at least a platonic relationship) would make Mr. Adams look like a victim for a head jump at a campaign.

    To blame Ball for Adams texting a 17 year-old regardless of sexuality is a joke. Before anyone makes any judgments yet, think about what motives Adams could have in this- It is more surprising than you think.

  • MCR (unverified)
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    StJohns-

    Ball has been poking around for a while, exploring a mayoral bid. He does have advisors, even if he doesn't have an official campaign with staff.

    Neither candidate comes out looking great here. Adams is the victim, if the story we've heard so far is true. Yet, he did show poor judgment at times for a politician (perhaps this is attractive to some).

    Ball, on the other hand, reveals his political stupidity by going to two of the worst possible people he could have gone to with this nonsense. And, yeah, he looks pretty scummy too.

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    This sadly reminds me of the whole "men and women can't be friends" line of thought for fear of the male gaze or sexualization. That Sam cannot mentor gay youth who find themselves in situations like he found himself in is silly and wrong. Politics is perception, sure, but it's not just perception. That people would use it against him is laughable at best and disgusting at worst.

    Disclaimer: I have worked for Commissioner Adams in the past, but I write and speak only for myself.

  • James X. (unverified)
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    Buckman, there are frequently underage persons around politicians, as interns, volunteers, whatever. The idea that some politicians have turned out to be pedophiles therefore all politicians must avoid 17-year-olds is just ridiculously sad.

    And StJohns, first, any emails, whether texted or whatever, can be retrieved. It's not like text messages are some esoteric way that gay people have sex with each other. Second, and most importantly, why the hell would Adams spread rumors that he's a pedophile? So that his entire campaign could be under a cloud of suspicion? That is absolutely the last rumor a gay politician could ever possibly want to spread about himself. And your theory also assumes that Adams could know in advance that Ball would respond in the unlikely manner of telling potential political endorsers that Sam's a pedophile, rather than just a) not believing it, b) asking Sam about it, or c) reporting it to the police and leaving it at that. Your theory assumes Sam had constructed this ingenious Rube Goldberg device and just dropped the ball bearing knowing every little lever and switch would be tripped just right.

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    See, it's stuff like this that makes politicians not want to mentor teens and young adults. Which means the pool of potential future leaders gets smaller and smaller, leaving those with money and connections as the only ones still available.

    I see absolutely nothing wrong with Adams mentoring this 17 year-old. If I was a young gay man looking to have a future in politics, Adams is one of the first people I would talk to. He knows what it's like, what the difficulties are, etc.

    And texting people is no bid deal anymore. It's like sending an e-mail. A lot of people like using text messages because they don't interrupt someone like a phone call would, often times you have unlimited texting ability, you can get a quick answer to questions, etc. I used text messages a lot during the 2006 campaign, and none of the people I sent text messages to was I having a relationship with.

    I can't believe how backwards some people's thinking can be. It's definitely like the post above comparing this to "men and women can't be friends."

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    StJohns-

    Ball is definately putting groups together for a run, I have an email in my college inbox from several months ago looking for a policy analyst intern and a political campaign strategist intern to help a Robert Ball who is investigating how to enter the 2008 portland mayor race. Both interns were described as researching the mayor and city commissioner's records... interesting.

    Also, Adams hardly needs a head start at the campaign, he's already spoken of as the frontrunner, and he hasn't even announced his intentions. Ball on the other hand, is not as widely known or discussed in the media.

    Texting is also not a big deal, it is rapidly overtaking actual phone calls in my generation as the primary means of communication. It's more casual, and less intrusive. And it doesn't mean anything more than an adult trying to connect to a younger person, for example, there has been a lot of news lately in the sports world about college football coaches more and more using text messages to connect with potential high school recruits.

    Jenni is right, this kind of allegation just makes community leaders less likely to mentor youth, it's dissapointing. I would also note that avoiding young people is exceptionally hard in politics, interns, pages, etc., they do a lot of grunt work in our government and in political campaigns. Perhaps it is because they haven't yet been exposed to enough of this kind of dirty politics to become total cynics like everyone else.

  • Eric J. (unverified)
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    It is really sad that people can not mind their own business. Do we really have to have this sort of garbage? What he does in his private life is of no concern to me and should not be any one else's.

    Bottom line: Why should we care?

  • James X. (unverified)
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    Well, if it were true, I would care, Eric.

  • raul (unverified)
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    Didn't you know? Gay people can't even be around each other w/out hanky panky ! ( sarcasm, please )

    It seems that if there is any sexual aberration amongst gay people it is when said gay people are in the closet. Gay men that are open and comfortable tend to lead normal, if not boring , lives.

    When anybody is ever accused of pedophilia, it is impossible to ever recover their reputation if they are innocent of the allegations. This is the stickiest type of slander. And this was a 17 year old- pedophilia brings to mind small children. If these allegations were true, which seems highly unlikely, I would not consider this pedophilia, but it would be an inappropriate sexual relationship.
    
    An adult gay man mentoring a young gay man would be comparable to an older African American man mentoring a younger African American man.
    
    Bob Ball needs to be tar and feathered for this, and run out of town on a rail. It also seems that it is the liar that always fears being lied to, or the thief that fears being stolen from. I wonder what could be lurking in Bob Ball's past?
    
  • Larry (unverified)
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    Posted by: LiberalIncarnate | Sep 18, 2007 1:19:13 PM

    <h2>I am not particular surprised by this attack. Sam Adams would likely become the first openly gay mayor of Oregon's largest and most powerful city. Can you expect anything less from fear mongers desperate to undo this highly potential outcome using any means necessary?</h2>

    No this is exactly what I would expect from fear mongers.

    It is not what I would expect from one Gay Man Who Wants To Be Mayor (GMWWTBM) spewing towards another Gay Man Who Wants To Be Mayor (GMWWTBM).

    So, LibIncar, did you not know that Ball was also gay, or did you intentionally hide that fact in your response?

  • James X. (unverified)
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    Raul, Ball's already run himself out of town on a rail. Read Scott Moore. It's interesting that there's one person in this town who's clammed up and fled the city, and it's not Sam.

  • Sally (unverified)
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    Adams should sue Bell for defamation of character. These lowlifes will continue to lie about political opponents with impunity until someone sues them.

  • portlandliberal (unverified)
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    It's true that someone cannot prove a negative. There's no way that we would ever know for sure that nothing inappropriate happened (and I doubt that it did), but all Sam needs to do to put this to bed (so to speak) is to produce the text messages that allegedly were sent on an "almost daily" basis for a bit. I don't know what kind of mentoring occurs on a daily basis via a text message ("R U OK? C U later. :)", but let's read them and see. If Mark Foley's texts could be retrieved and printed, then Sam's could too. By the way, is that a taxpayer funded phone?? Perhaps a Public Records Request?

  • James X. (unverified)
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    I take that back about Ball not being in town. With everyone saying he couldn't be reached, and with BlogTown saying he split town, I assumed he wasn't currently in Portland. Apparently he's either back, or he had just gone in hiding, because KOIN managed an interview where Ball claimed there was no political motivation, though he seemed to back away from any assertion that the rumors were true.

    As for the text messages, I don't think Sam needs to provide evidence to defend himself when no evidence was made against him. But it's probably possible somehow. You might have to actually subpoena the carrier or something, though. Foley was caught by instant messages (AIM), and only because a couple of the kids he IM'd saved them, IIRC. Text messages are typically stored only on the phone, and there's just no way a phone could have enough memory to hold text messages all the way back to 2005. I doubt Breedlove would have volunteered the existence of the texts, though, if they weren't exculpatory.

    It should probably be pointed out, though, that Breedlove's own mother was in the loop on all of this. Not exactly child predator behavior, here. Also, both Adams' boyfriend and Breedlove's boyfriend were in the picture and at various times accompanying them.

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    Posted by: portlandliberal | Sep 18, 2007 4:28:27 PM

    Let the Witch-Hunt™ begin!

    The Foley scandal (which this bears NO resemblance to substance-wise) was sparked when the pages Foley was hitting revealed publicly how uncomfortable his unwanted advances were. Not to mention years before the scandal broke, Foley had complaints lodged against him which had been reported to the GOP leadership that he was hitting on them and they covered it up.

    This is NOTHING like that at all. Adams is not a hypocritical married closet-case nor have any complaints about his behavior been lodged advances. The teenager in question and Adams, and even the innuendo inducing articles on this all acknowledge nothing happened which was inappropriate. Your calls are based on the notion of comparing apples to anvils.

    The link James X gave up-thread to Scott's blog over at the Merc is spot on. This is a bullshit non-story being whipped up into one, which calls to "turn over the text messages" are borderline hysterical pitchfork and torches style nonsense which is doing the hate-mongers work for them.

    Congratulations.

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    Every cell phone I've ever had could only store 30-50 text messages. So it's extremely unlikely they'd still have copies of what was sent back and forth. Chances are they don't even have the same phones.

    Not that they need to produce them anyway -- there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that anything happened.

    The only thing that people can point to is that they e-mailed and sent text messages back and forth. Big deal. People do that all the time.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Sam has obviouly reached the hights of political popularity, which we knew.

    Edwin Edwards, when he was the untouchable governor of LA, expressed his invicibility as, "no one can touch me unless they find me in bed with a dead girl or a live boy".

    Unable to find a dead girl, your opposition has resorted to a live boy.

    Who cares? Just ignore it and don't even respond. You're invicible.

  • Grant Schott (unverified)
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    Ball has destroyed whatever slim chance he had of winning. Adam's explanation I saw on KATU tonight sounded fine, assuming he is being totally forthcoming and not like Bill Clinton in Jan. '98; "I did not have sex with..."

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    "There's no way that we would ever know for sure that nothing inappropriate happened (and I doubt that it did), but all Sam needs to do to put this to bed (so to speak) is to produce the text messages that allegedly were sent on an "almost daily" basis for a bit"

    I would say that it is highly unlikely that these messages will be able to be retrieved. As is noted above, a phone will only store so many messages, and seeing how it has been over 2 years since they were exchanged, they have probably since been cleared from the phone's memory. It's similarly very unlikely that the phone network would still have the content of the messages, when you send a text it is temporarily stored at a short message service center (smsc) until the message is able to be sent to the recipient, but the message will only be stored at the smsc for a certain period of time, which almost certainly has passed in this case.

    Long story short, unless Breedlove or Adams saved the messages, which is doubtful, we will probably never read them, and calling for them to be released is an entirely unreasonable expectation of Adams.

  • Leo (unverified)
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    This couldn't have happened to a more deserving guy (Ball)!

    For those of you who are still giving him the benefit of a doubt, you have obviously not lived in any of his condo buildings. Having dealt with this guy in the past, this story does not surprise me!

  • James X. (unverified)
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    Nick, I think you're right. I initially said they were probably retrievable because I hadn't really thought about it and just lumped it all together with emails and instant messages, which can be routinely logged and stored. But having Googled the retrieval of text messages in investigations, it looks like it only happens when the texts are still on someone's phone. And as Jenni pointed out, not only is the memory storage just unfathomable, but the phones used are probably no longer around, either. I'm sure Sam would like to be able to publish these, though. Maybe he can dig up some emails or something instead.

  • Abby Norml (unverified)
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    Long story short, unless Breedlove or Adams saved the > messages, which is doubtful,

    And if they did, it would be even more suspicious! Bill Clinton is a good comparison. Why did'nt she wash the dress? If you've got it two years or so later, that's pretty wierd.

    I would say that it is highly unlikely that these messages will be able to be retrieved.

    Which no doubt has much to do with the nature of the accusation!

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    Abby Norml, huh?

    Is this someone I know, or do you happen to be a Young Frankenstein fan?

  • Bob R. (unverified)
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    Sam should NOT have to produce any text messages or emails or documents at all -- for the simple reason that NOBODY involved, who would actually be in a position to know, has alleged inappropriate conduct, and no evidence whatsoever revealing even a hint of contradiction between Sam's account and reality has been produced.

    The only reason anyone would need to disclose purely private communications is when proof is needed to either back up or refute an allegation of specific facts, and there are none here which are in dispute.

    • Bob R.
  • My kingdom, for a hypocrite (unverified)
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    MCR writes: "Ball has been poking around for awhile...."

    Oh my! 'Nuff said.

  • East Bank Thom (unverified)
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    But now he has an unmerited blemish on his reputation ... It is absolutely shameful that these kind of politics are taking place in our state.

    Indeed. Where do you go to get your reputation back?

  • Miles (unverified)
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    Being one who does NOT find conspiracy in every story, I actually think this is less about hardball negative campaigning and more about bad judgement. On Bob Ball's part, that is.

    My guess is that Bob heard this rumor from someone he thought was credible (the only ex-staffer quoted in the stories to date is David Gonzalez, who was fired by Sam last year. . . hmmm. . .), and he started asking around about it. Was that dirty campaigning? Sort of, if you consider all opposition research dirty. But I think if Sam really DID have a sexual relationship with a 17 year-old, that's something that needs to be made public.

    But there's no evidence of that at all. Instead, this whole thing seems to be bad judgement on Ball's part -- the kind of bad judgement that probably disqualifies you from holding elected office. I mean, beyond just sharing the rumor with others, Ball's immediate reaction when confronted was to lie to the Oregonian. If he'll lie about this, he'll lie about other issues as well. He's done.

  • James X. (unverified)
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    Ball now tells KOIN he does not and never did believe the rumors.

  • Ted (unverified)
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    I think most people here are missing the real point of this story and I think WW was right to run it for two reasons: (1) Mudslinging and personal attacks have been part of the political landscape since the Reagan years and WW showed us what's coming down the line; (2) Adams did show poor judgement.

    I've been to three of Adams' various community forums. He was late for two and had to leave early once because he was so busy. I've contacted his office with one serious public safety concern and never got so much as an auto-email reply. Yet he can exchange multiple calls, meetings, and text messages with a 17 year old kid?

    Sam told WW: "At the end of lunch, I invited him to First Thursday, which is what I do when I talk to anybody." Really? So if any of us want to talk about something under Sam's umbrella, we'll be invited to hang out at 1st Thursday and have dinner with him?

    Also in the WW article, Sam says: "He was looking for a mentor," Adams says in an interview Monday with WW. "I tried to be both prudent and useful to him." However in his public email address Sam says: "I remember when I was a teenager and I had nobody who I felt I could talk to at a time I desperately needed someone to give me advice and perspective about coming to terms with being gay. I came through it. Not everyone does." Nowhere in his email does Sam mention giving the boy career advice. This is a very important contribution, because he's changed his tune from one of career mentorship for a young intern to one of advice on being young and gay, which is a personal matter of sexuality. So a sitting City Commissioner (1) mentions internship opportunities in his office and (2) admits to consulting a minor about his gay sexuality. He also invited him someplace after hours where alcohol was being served AND had a private dinner with the minor.

    Now if Sam showed him around the office and took him to lunch at a deli near City Hall, I wouldn't think anything of it, but private after hours events, phone calls, texts, and a trip to a gay lad's 18th birthday party out of town....? I don't think anything did actually happen, but this was just poor judgement that exposes the Portland taxpayers to potential liability. Really dumb. It would have been just as dumb for Vera Katz to do the same thing with a teenage boy or girl who wanted to talk about their sexuality. Unbelievably poor judgement on Sam's part.

    ...And next time I want to meet or speak with Sam on an important issue, I expect him to answer the phone and make the appointment.

  • Miles (unverified)
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    Unbelievably poor judgement on Sam's part.

    No, Ted, it's not. Poor judgment would be having a romantic relationship with the minor, not acting as a mentor and adult role model, which is all that appears to have happened here.

    Do we really want to live in a community where every time an adult spends time with a minor, he or she is assumed to be sexually involved with said minor? The people who will suffer will be our children, who will no longer have access to adult mentors and role models.

  • Jon (unverified)
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    What he does in his private life is of no concern to me and should not be any one else's.

    Agreed. But when people are talking about Adams being the "first openly gay mayor", its not private any longer. You want to keep your personal life private? Then dont make your lifestyle choices a political issue.

  • Anon (unverified)
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    Bob Ball must be feeling like such a loser right now. Isn't he the last person that would want to open up a can of worms? Craigslist anyone?

  • LT (unverified)
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    Mark Zussman on KPOJ this morning said they tracked down a rumor and reported the source and that they couldn't find information confirming it, first on their website. But that there had been controversy about reporting it.

    We have a decision to make in politics: 1) accuser is always believed and object of accusation is guilty until proven innocent even if accuser is potential political adversary.

    2)Smell test--object is innocent until proven guilty, accusations should be more specific than "some people told me they were worried".

    How many people here have mentored a young person? How many people here have been a coach, Sunday School teacher, Scout leader, 4-H leader, etc?

    Teachers and school staff and volunteers are given background checks. If you met someone a generation younger and wanted to reach out to that person as a caring adult who could help the young person through adolescence, a difficult year at school, being different than other kids (incl. a child of color in an all white school or vice versa), etc must there now be a formalized process where parents sign off on an adult being this young person's mentor or something?

    This looks to me like a smear campaign, esp. given the look on Ball's face on TV when he tries to explain. IF there really were Sam's staff worried about this situation, there was a way to do this privately. Seems to me I saw Randy Leonard interviewed and he didn't seem to credit the attack. So how did it become public?

    I don't think Sam showed bad judgement in wanting to be a mentor unless they rented a motel room or something. If it was all done in restaurants and other public places it sure seems OK to me. Would we be having this conversation if the intern's name were Jane Doe?

  • Jon (unverified)
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    If these allegations were true, which seems highly unlikely, I would not consider this pedophilia, but it would be an inappropriate sexual relationship.

    "Inappropriate sexual relationship" ?? Wonderful. I supposed Goldschmidt had an "inappropriate sexual relationship" with that 14 yr old too?

    Actually, it would be child rape according to the law. Nobody under 18 can give consent for that sort of behavior with an adult.

    But it appears nothing happened, so the point is moot.

  • Larry (unverified)
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    Miles

    Remember what Sam's own people were saying in the Oregonian and WWeek articles. There is a small blurb where the articles mention that Sam's staff operates in a "locker room-like way" and comments were made on multiple occasions where senior staff joked, "make sure he is older than Beau was!" when speaking about Sam's private life.

    Sam showed poor judgement.

  • Sally (unverified)
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    Why is this news?

    Why is the Oregonian headline: Adams says he'd do nothing differently Politics - Commissioner rejects a rumor involving an intern, saying he will continue to mentor others

    Why isn't it something like "Smear campaign starts early in Mayor's race? Will Sam Adams sue Bob Ball?

    The young man said there was nothing there, his parents said there was nothing there and the ONLY evidence is that Bob Ball claimed that "someone told me something"

    So if I post here that Ron Wyden barbeques kittens or Gordon Smith eats babies does that make it worthy of a news story? After all, someone somewhere said something bad about someone so let's print it.

    Bob Ball's excuses were idiotic. If you believe someone is abusing a young person, you report it to the prosecutor's office or the police. You don't run around the hallways pointing fingers and repeating rumors.

    That the Oregonian and WW picked up this non-story shows how pathetic they've become. What next, WW & the Oregonian sitting by the checkout stand at the supermarket w/ Alien Pregnant by Elvis headlines?

  • James X. (unverified)
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    Larry, the WW article did not say Sam's staff operates in a "locker room-like way." It said they made a joke with Sam in a locker room-like way. One joke. That does not equal a general mode of snapping each other's jock straps.

    And Jon, WTF with "You want to keep your personal life private? Then dont make your lifestyle choices a political issue." Not only is the premise that Sam was trying to keep something private off-base, but the idea that Sam chose "the gay lifestyle" is bizarre and the idea that gay people shouldn't be involved with gay political issues is just backward.

  • ABA (unverified)
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    Two important questions to consider:

    1. Who went to the press with this rumor?
    2. Who benefitted from this media event?
  • Jon (unverified)
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    And Jon, WTF with "You want to keep your personal life private? Then dont make your lifestyle choices a political issue." Not only is the premise that Sam was trying to keep something private off-base, but the idea that Sam chose "the gay lifestyle" is bizarre and the idea that gay people shouldn't be involved with gay political issues is just backward.

    Actually, I wasnt inferring that Sam was trying to keep something private. (Based on current evidence, I think Ball's accusations are crap.) But I was referring to someone else's post that Sam's private life is nobody's business. Well, touting him as the "first openly gay mayor" or calling anything a "gay political issue" is putting his personal life right out in the open.

  • Jon (unverified)
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    How many people here have mentored a young person? How many people here have been a coach, Sunday School teacher, Scout leader, 4-H leader, etc?

    Ok, and how many of you in those positions discussed sexuality with those you were mentoring? I bet none. It wouldnt be an appropriate subject. But Sam also said that part of their discussions were about the kid's dealing with being gay. I think that's where he went over the line...gay or straight.

  • Anon (unverified)
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    Larry, the WW article did not say Sam's staff operates in a "locker room-like way." It said they made a joke with Sam in a locker room-like way. One joke. That does not equal a general mode of snapping each other's jock straps.

    There were multiple jokes. What does that mean "locker room way"? Like "hey's he's hot but only 17, too bad." Politicians staff directors shoudl be smarter than that. The staff was worried that the kid was interested in Sam. That should have been enough of a warning.

    The rumors stink. But the to be mayor needs to look hard at his staff.

  • Miles (unverified)
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    Ok, and how many of you in those positions discussed sexuality with those you were mentoring? I bet none. It wouldn't be an appropriate subject.

    Well, I had a friend's kid talk to me about being gay a few years ago. He was 17 at the time. He knew that I have a gay cousin who I've talked a lot about, he knew I was pretty open-minded, and I think he used me as a test case before talking to his parents.

    Seriously, who are kids supposed to discuss their sexuality with if not adult friends and role models? They may not be able to discuss it with their friends for fear of ostracization or getting the crap beat out of them. They may not be able to discuss it with their parents for fear of getting kicked out of the house. If difficult life issue like sexuality (or sex in general) are off-limits to mentors, you're closing down a potentially valuable source of advice.

  • James X. (unverified)
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    ABA, The Merc says it's Ball that's been going to multiple media outlets. He hoped to benefit from it. That it backfired isn't evidence that Sam was firing the gun.

    And Jon, why is talking about being gay wrong? Who else should you talk about that with? Coming out is a difficult thing, it helps to have support.

  • Ted (unverified)
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    Miles - "Poor judgment would be having a romantic relationship with the minor, not acting as a mentor and adult role model, which is all that appears to have happened here. Do we really want to live in a community where every time an adult spends time with a minor, he or she is assumed to be sexually involved with said minor?"

    Dude, the conversation took place in the evening. First Thursday is not exclusively an adult socializing event, but mostly so. The Lotus isn't exclusively an adult bar and singles joint, but mostly it is. One of your own staff members (paraphrasing) who's job it is to keep people away who seem to be hitting on Commissioner Sam (who must feel the need to delegate this responsibility, though I have a few gay friends who would run the other direction at the thought) said the 17 year old seemed to be hitting on Sam and suggested in a "locker room way" that he should be careful, yet Sam went with him anyway.

    Miles, part of what minor means and the legal implications of that term is that he/she doesn't necessarily have the maturity, as judged by society and the legislative process, to make the right decisions in certain ways. So here's a power figure who has been advised the kid seems to have a liking for him and yet meets him in several adult settings. And as for Sam not knowing he was gay initially... Come on... I had a gay roommate for a couple of years and mingled at his parties and am a straight, gay-friendly guy. Ever heard of "gay-dar"? The idea that it takes a confession of gayness to become aware that somebody is gay and interested is just absurd.

    Like I said, Sam could have invited him to the office and agreed to meet him for lunch or Starbucks if he really felt the kid was deeply confused and needed advice. Get a table and talk about trying to be a gay man making it in a straight guy's world. i wouldn't begrudge him that. ...But First Thursday?... Macaroni Grill after hours...? ...And the Lotus, which is 99% bar and singles joint...? ...An 18 year old's out of town birthday party??????

    Here's what I think--Sam is full of himself to the X^10 degree and had a young gay admirer to pump his ego. I don't think anything physical happened, but it was a stupid choice on Sam's part. By your logic, an adult who talks sex with a minor online, knowing he's a minor, is within ethical boundaries as long as he doesn't have sex with the kid. I disagree 100%. The burden of knowing and following the law falls on the adult in society. If it's a public official, it falls on him even more.

  • SamIamNot (unverified)
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    WOW This is simply amazing!

    I don't want Sam as Mayor because of the way he runs the Transportation Bureau but I will vote for him if there isn't a better candidate available.

    I will never vote for Ball for anything because of this stunt.

    Disgusted

  • ABA (unverified)
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    You folks make Mark Wiener's job so easy.

  • (Show?)

    I am proud of Sam Adams for taking a strong stand in favor of adult gay men mentoring our youth, in his Open Letter to Portlanders.

    Despite ongoing steps towards overcoming historic prejudice against sexual minorities, growing up lesbian, gay, bisexual, and especially transgender is very hard. Harder than most straight people could ever understand.

    We are finally reaching a point in history where our GLBT youth have role models and mentors to look up to. As a society, we should be proud of that, if we care about all our youth.

    It angers me that people are trying to twist a positive and socially necessary process - youth mentoring - with lewd innuendo hidden behind a fig-leaf claim of "poor judgment". It says far more about themselves than Sam Adams.

  • (Show?)

    On the idea that Adams is the one who made his sexuality an issue..........

    Heterosexuals aren't expected to make their sexual orientation an issue, becuase they are "normal". This is the default position of the local press (except maybe for the Mercury) and it's willfully blind to lay blame off on the politician in question for publicly asserting his humanity.

    Until homosexuality is broadly accepted as "normal" gay politicians who come out publicly have to be seen as courageous, even in towns as putatively liberal as Portland.

    <hr/>

    When you see ambiguity even here on Blue Oregon about the propriety of an adult gay man mentoring a gay teen.......you know that we've got a ways to go...

  • (Show?)

    I am proud of Sam Adams for taking a strong stand in favor of adult gay men mentoring our youth, in his Open Letter to Portlanders.

    Despite ongoing steps towards overcoming historic prejudice against sexual minorities, growing up lesbian, gay, bisexual, and especially transgender is very hard. Harder than most straight people could ever understand.

    We are finally reaching a point in history where our GLBT youth have role models and mentors to look up to. As a society, we should be proud of that, if we care about all our youth.

    It angers me that people are trying to twist a positive and socially necessary process - youth mentoring - with lewd innuendo hidden behind a fig-leaf claim of "poor judgment". It says far more about themselves than Sam Adams.

  • Jon (unverified)
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    why is talking about being gay wrong? Who else should you talk about that with? Coming out is a difficult thing, it helps to have support.

    I didnt say it was wrong, I just think that as a politician, it was a poor choice for Adams.

  • raul (unverified)
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    I have seen this situation before, and I have been a victim of it as well. My profession works with interns, and I was introduced to an intern who was reading Thomas Paine. After several conversations, the intern and I became friends. That was when the rumors began to fly. I am a married man, and the intern was an 18 YO girl.

    The intern and I were a political and racial minority in our workplace, and I was able to give her some insight as to how to frame her convictions so that she could freely discuss her positions and ethnic identity with others as opposed to alienating her co-workers. When I met the intern, I met her in locations that were comfortable for her, but always in public. This sounds to me to be the same precautions Sam took.
    
    Taking this relationship past friendship never occured to me. My wife is beautiful, and I am 100% committed to our relationship. I feel and felt that it was my obligation to mentor this young woman, the direction that I received from my elders when I was her age is invaluable to me still.
    
     Referring to this Adams situation as pedophilia, like some did in the above posts, I still believe is disingenuous and inflammatory. It is not appropriate for adults to have sexual relationships with minors, but a 17 YO may marry with parental permission- the term child rape does not apply. What is the difference between 17 and 355 days and 18 and 1 day?
    
     As Jon refers to Adams' " lifestyle choice ", I wonder if Jon has to choose daily which sex he is attracted to? Is it something you struggle with? Is having relations with a man even a possibility for you?
    
      My sexuality has been apparent to me since I was a child, and I assume Sam's was as well. Straight politicians won't stop trotting out their wives and kids ( clear symbols of THEIR sexuality ) out onto the campaign stage. They make their sexuality an integral part of their campaign. Right?
    
  • Jack Stumptown (unverified)
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    Bob Ball just propositioned me in the men's bathroom at PDX. Seriously, just like Larry Craig! Seriously!!

  • ABA (unverified)
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    When the Goldschmidt scandal was uncovered, one of the often asked questions was, someone must have heard something, why didn’t they tell? The reply by many was something to the effect of, it was just a rumor, we all heard it.

    Now, 30 years later, we have a man, who heard a rumor that many of us heard, and he chose to ask a lawyer what to do. After seeking advice he went to two people, albeit the wrong people. One he told the rumor, the other he referred to the rumor as one that was politically damning.

    What happened next? The center of the rumor, the potential political competitor, went public with this rumor in a manner that not only reframed him as the victim, rather than the victimizer, but it smeared, yes smeared, his opponent, by saying he, his potential opponent, was spreading this rumor in order to ruin his political chances.

    Wait a minute. Look at who did the spoiling of political chances! Sam Adams went to the media with the details of the rumor about him. Bob Ball only talked to three people, none being the media.

    If you look closely at these facts, you will see, a highly successful Rovian political strategy put forth by Sam Adams and, most likely, his political consultant, Mark Wiener.

    I feel disgusted and dirty all over after learning this story. I will NEVER support a candidate that uses methods such as these to knock off his opponents, and I will NEVER support a candidate or ballot measure that utilizes the monstrous, amoral skills of those such as Mark Wiener and his company Winning Mark! These are two people who will destroy anyone, and say or do anything to win.

    Be smart. Just because they are democrats, doesn’t mean they won’t resort to the winning methods of those taught by the GW Bush campaigns. To many in this game, winning is more important than how you win. How a candidate behaves in a campaign is a good predictor of how they will behave in office.

    This guy, Sam Adams, scares me.

  • Miles (unverified)
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    Bob Ball only talked to three people, none being the media.

    1. City Hall insiders are saying that Ball actually mentioned this to numerous media outlets over the past few weeks. I have yet to hear Ball reject that claim.

    2. You acknowledge that Ball went to the wrong people with the rumor. So doesn't that show pretty poor judgment on Ball's part? Doesn't it contradict his claim that he was trying to report possible child sexual abuse when he takes it to the very people that might convince Sam not to run? Think about it -- why would he tell LEONARD and KATZ, two of Sam's close allies? Because he wanted them to convey the message to Sam that Ball had the dirt, thereby pressuring Sam to not run for Mayor.

    3. Ball's first reaction when confronted with the story was to lie to the press. He didn't say "No comment" and he didn't issue a careful response. He flat out lied.

    Regardless of whether Sam's strategy was Machiavellian or not, the episode proves Ball is unfit to hold public office.

  • Eric J. (unverified)
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    Ball also needs to learn to mind his own business and leave others alone.

  • Screwtape (unverified)
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    Three years ago, Sam Adams - at the age of 41 - hit on the boyfriend of a coworker at a local gym. The boyfriend was fresh out of college and at least twenty years Sam Adams' junior. And as a progressive young college grad, he was very aware of who Sam Adams was, so there was no mistaking the identity of the older fellow.

    Sam might be a nice guy. He might be held in high esteem by the Portland left and homosexual community. But so was Neil Goldschmidt.

    Sam showed his colors that day and now I'm seeing the same thing in the headlines. And what we're all seeing is the exact same smear campaign from Adams that Neil G would have employed way back when he was having his "affair" with a 14 year old.

    At least this time, someone stood up and discretely pointed out the issue. And when did a victim ever completely fess up and reveal everything when the press arrives on the doorstep looking for the full story? Remember how many times it took press contact over the years to get Neil's victim to actually reveal the sordid details? Over twenty years after the fact.

    But go on believing whatever you want. It's called denial, and it's what Sam has stated and it's his state of mind.

  • LDL (unverified)
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    Ummm... Sam certainly did NOT go to the press about this story. My friends at the Mercury have told me that both the Oregonian and WW had been stewing on this for weeks before they decided to publish it, and that their information came from Bob Ball.

    Did anyone else notice that the original sensationalist article from the homophobic, shouldn't-be-Pulitzer-prize-winning Nigel Jaquiss didn't say where the rumors came from?

    I think that before you damn Sam for being Rovian (which I highly doubt is the case), we all need to know WHERE DID THE WW GET ITS "TIP" FROM?

    From what I have heard, it wasn't Adams... I am pretty damned sure it was Bob Ball. But when the press confronted Sam about the rumor, he didn't back down from the fight. I like progressive candidates with some spine and spunk. God knows we could use a few more of those at the national level...

    I do have to say that it is pretty sad to hear some of the homophobic overtones in these postings.

    And Sam, who nobody has ONE SHRED of evidence did anything wrong, is now getting blamed for being like Karl Rove. Talk about blaming the victim! I think that people will use this to reinforce their pre-existing opinions about Sam. So those who didn't like him will say "he scares me [because he's a homo]". Those who give people the benefit of the doubt will say "man, this guy seems like a fighter, and straigt-forward to boot."

    The last thing I want to say about this whole Rovian Sam's a Machiavelli notion is that a gay politician would NEVER EVER want to have this kind of rumor tacked on him. It is something that will be brought up forever. It will NEVER go away (because of preexisting homophobic worries that are ridiculously easy to trigger with even a rumor that has no hard evidence to it) and it will stack odds against him if he were to try to run for any statewide office. No gay politician would ever want to have charges of underage sex. That's just frikkin' ridiculous.

  • (Show?)

    ABA, when you say "many of us" heard the rumor about Adams and Breedlove, who's "us"? BlueOregon commenters? Anybody else care to comment on where or how widely the rumor was circulating before WW?

    Screwtape, interesting choice of anonymous pseudonym. If this were literature one would say the author seems to be suggesting that the narrator is unreliable. I'm assuming you understand that in the book he was an actual demon and not just a devil's advocate. Or is this supposed to be a comment on mentoring relationships you consider unholy?

    Do you really think it's a Goldschmidt-type situation, i.e. rape of a minor, and that a story about someone in their early 20s (?) backs up imputations of rape of a minor, and that Bob Ball and Nigel Jacquiss have been heroic here? If so, don't you have a responsibility to go public with the story, or to persuade the co-worker's boyfriend to do so, to back them up?

    Right now, what reason could a reader have to have any confidence in your story or to think you weren't lying for reason known only to your anonymous self?

    Kari, Charlie, Jeff (excuse me if I've misremembered you as the third siteowner) what are the limits of anonymity vis a vis scurrilous rumors on BlueOregon? It feels as if Screwtape is awfully close to it. Is this an obvious enough case of trolling to let it stand? I'm not saying this is an obvious decision, just want to make sure it's a fully conscious one.

  • Screwtape (unverified)
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    I post anonymously to protect the identity of the coworker and the friend.

    You can believe my story or you can not believe it. It's up to you, but a witch hunt over a perfectly sincere post on this website is up to you. I'm am simply reporting a personal anecdote - it would be considered "hearsay" in court - and it is about an older male and a clearly younger male, but older than age of consent. Again, it is what it is. It only demonstrates that I personally find it highly likely that Sam Adams is attracted to males much younger than he and that for that reason, the public story has some credibility in my mind.

    I do not consider the Sam Adams situation entirely comparable to Neil G's because of the consent/non-consent age difference in each case. But the fact remains that I believe my coworker when they say that the pass was made on their boyfriend. And the twenty+ year age difference is creepy and inappropriate if it is hetero or homosexual.

    Take it as you will. But if you heard that your son or daughter was privately and very frequently text-messaging an individual with political power twenty+ years in age, you'd be more than upset and shocked yourself.

  • East Bank Thom (unverified)
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    Three years ago, Sam Adams - at the age of 41 - hit on the boyfriend of a coworker at a local gym. The boyfriend was fresh out of college and at least twenty years Sam Adams' junior.

    ok. i'm calling foul, shenanigans and bullsh*t. I know that Steve Novick graduated college at 18, but what about this lad from Screwtape's lurid rumor? Sure there's the occasional college grad barely of drinking age... just seems too convenient for this newest anonymous tale.

    The conflation of some supposed (dare say invented) spring/autumn romance with a confirmed case of statutory rape on the part of an anonymous poster is ... words fail me.

    {{{irony alert}}} Bob Ball, who sparked the original rumor actually has a partner some 18+ years his junior. Does "Screwtape" find this "creepy" as well.

    I say, come out of the shadows, Screwtape. Failing that, BlueOregon has a stated policy of not providing a forum for such attacks.

    When Sam decides what he's running for next, i'll be sending him a check. That's how i deal with trolls. (He'll still have to earn my vote.)

    [Disclaimer: I married a man three months my senior... //gasp!//]

  • Screwtape (unverified)
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    Thank you for the commentary Thom, but you have no credibility on the anonymous troll issue since your own website shows you with hair over your face distorting your identity and no true personally identifying information.

    So who besides you is to say you're Thom or what that even means.

    Again, stop trying to kill the messenger here. I'm not even a resident of Portland and I really don't care about Sam Adams' political career. I do, however, care about the rights and legal protection of minors AND personal responsibility when it comes to sexual/social contact between what you call a "spring/autumn" encounter. I haven't actually accused Sam of anything illegal as a matter of fact if you read carefully. I simply have relayed a reliable story from someone I very much trust that indicates Sam has the character of someone who might be attracted to and tempted to have contact with younger men that may not be appropriate ethically at the very least. I'm not even talking illegal here.

    But so far it's been nothing but "silence the Troll" and accusation of character assassination because I'm anonymous. Does that mean all the brave souls who have been posting anonymously - when they've been able to - from Burma (I refuse the word Myanmar) should be discredited and/or silenced. That's their government's tactic.

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