In a stunning revelation in an Oregonian article Monday, BOLI employees admitted to engaging in campaign work during normal work hours."Two of the staffers who volunteered for Avakian's campaign said on Monday that they always did so on their own time, or made up the work time later if they volunteered during work hours."
These admissions are a clear violation of Oregon law and should have been the story's headline. At a minimum, it should trigger a DOJ investigation, though with Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum's track record of ignoring obvious violations in other scandals (Kitzhaber/Cylvia Hayes FBI corruption investigation) I wouldn't hold your breath.
This revelation triggers many questions: how can anyone verify that they made up the time? BOLI is the fox guarding the henhouse (they redacted their own schedule) and their time sheets don't reflect personal time for their admitted campaign activity during work hours. Were their generous salaries paid in full despite working for the campaign during normal work hours? Why were they given large pay increases, with Charlie Burr's being larger than his boss?
How can Charlie Burr, the BOLI spokesman quoted in the Oregon ian article also be the campaign spokesman responding to the reporters questions? Why isn't that noted by the reporter the story? It is interesting to note that apparently the campaign was referring press inquiries to Charlie Burr at BOLI on Monday, but he is now referring reporters inquiries back to the campaign as noted by Claire Withycombe in her Portland Tribune story on Tuesday.
Isn't that more proof of illegal campaign activity?
Another clear contradiction in BOLI's feeble explanations of their illegal activity from the Oregonian story is that they were volunteering for the campaign, even thought they received monetary bonuses from the campaign. "Charlie Burr, spokesman for the Bureau of Labor and Industries, said he volunteered for Avakian's campaign in 2015 and this year, as did Legislative Director Paloma Sparks and Avakian's executive assistant Jesse Bontecou." "The Forbes.com article also pointed out that Avakian paid Burr, Sparks and Bontecou from his political action committee in 2014." How can you receive bonus pay if you are a volunteer? Aren't you an employee if you do that? This is another red flag that the Oregon Department of Revenue should be investigating.
OCWF did get a response from BOLI's Charlie Burr regarding our request that BOLI clarify it's assertion that the massive calendar redactions (noted in our Monday blog post) are all 'non BOLI related activities" is accurate. He emailed back yesterday "We made the redactions under ORS 192.502(2) because of personal privacy concerns but will review and be in touch about your follow-up request for clarification. Our agency is also seeking guidance from the Attorney General’s office to ensure proper compliance."
I wonder if personal privacy concerns cover their "volunteer" campaign activity during work hours as an excuse for blacking out their schedules?
OCWF will continue to investigate and bring forward any further developments in this scandal as they become known.
Stay tuned friends.