By Derrick Kitts. Kitts is a former Republican state representative and House majority whip from Washington County. He currently resides in New York City and works in television.
In 2003 three weeks after being sworn into the 73rd legislative session I was arrested for DUI. Not exactly the start I was hoping for. However, as embarrassed by the incident as I was, I understood the importance of not letting this episode interfere with the job I was elected to do...and I did not.
In the face of my rocky start to the session I still support all legislation increasing penalties for driving under the influence. My colleague State Representative Jeff Barker whose legislation and excellent work is responsible for toughening up the DUI laws came up to me on the floor and expressed his concern over the subject matter and the uncomfortable position it put me in. I expressed to Barker that "doing the right thing is always the right thing, I am fine, easy votes for me."
In 2005 when then Representative Dan Doyle was found to have embezzled thousands of dollars from his campaign account I along with Senator Kate Brown and Secretary of State Bill Bradbury passed the most comprehensive campaign disclosure laws Oregon had seen in 30 years.
Why? Because it was the right thing to do.
In these days of political partisanship Oregon has prided itself on doing the right thing. Dan Doyle, Kelly Wirth, and David Wu all violated the trust of the people and the pressure to purge the system of such undesirables prevailed.
In 2011, Representative Mike Schaufler was forced from his committee assignment amidst allegations he acted inappropriately with a female staffer at the AFL-CIO's convention. In 2012, the Democrats further purged Schaufler by beating him in the primary election.
In the most recent scandal to plague the House, Representative Wingard seems poised to hold onto his seat until the November election. Wingard's resignation from House leadership is the obvious and immediate decision (However, it is my belief the decision may not have been entirely his.). The fact remains giving up a perk of the job does not qualify as contrition for the act that caused the resignation. Wingard understands the political ramifications for his actions and needs to own up to his actions and resign immediately. More so than the party, the integrity of the institution and the precedent set before demand it.
When the personal behavior of a public official interferes with their ability to serve the constituents that entrusted them with the honor of serving, the only honorable outcome is resignation. In the case of Representative Wingard he has seen fit to resign a leadership post as a result of his behavior. Wingard's ultimate responsibility lies with his constituents and not House leadership. As such, if Wingard's actions warrant resignation of a leadership post those same actions for the same reasons warrant resignation from his position as State Representative.
Beyond the inappropriate relationship with a staffer, the allegations of contributing to the delinquency of a minor warrants a harsh rebuke from House leadership in and of itself.
Matt it is time to go, your district deserves it and it is he right thing to do.
June 25, 2012 | |