Sen Brian Boquist told to stop slipping anonymous packets under colleagues’ doors

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Brian Boquist
Oregon State Senator Brian Boquist at a 2016 meeting. Image: Oregon Dept of Transport (CC2.0).

Republican Oregon State Senator Brian Boquist has been cautioned by the legislature’s top in-house lawyer to stop slipping anonymous packets of documents under the doors of his colleagues.

“Very intimidating and hostile”

On Friday Senator Boquist publicly released a copy of a December 5th letter from Oregon Legislature Counsel Dexter Johnson, officially advising him that he has been engaged in conduct several of his colleagues find upsetting.

The letter recounts how Senator Boquist has been identified on security footage as the person who has been slipping anonymous packets of documents under the doors of at least seven members of the legislature.

“Some affected members and staff who received the documents,” the letter states, “found the anonymous quality of the communications, coupled with the demonstrated insider access needed complete to delivery of the documents, to be very intimidating and hostile.

“I strongly urge you,” it continued, “to be mindful your actions and the appearance of your actions so that concerns about workplace harassment are not raised again.”

Boquist shared the warning from Johnson (which would normally be kept confidential) online on Friday. He has also released a series of emails from him to the Oregon State Police commissioner and other officials asking how the relevant security footage was accessed, and threatened to contact federal authorities on the issue.

What was Brian Boquist distributing under doors?

Although the names of individuals have been redacted from the published version of the letter, the documents Boquist distributed are thought to relate to incoming Democratic senator Jeff Golden.

In the early 1970s Golden wrote an autobiographical account of a summer spent working on a cooperative farm in Georgia, Watermelon Summer. The book contains outmoded statements about women which were used against him during the recent campaign. Golden has admitted the book “by 2018 standards does not read well.”

According to an attack mailer sent out in October, Golden’s 40-year-old memoir calls women “time-wasters” and says that a woman should be “subordinate to orders given to her by men.”

Boquist said he was delivering a “reminder” to his colleagues with his anonymous packages. According to the email he sent to Oregon State Police commissioner Travis Hampton, these consisted of “biographical data, online data, and quotes of a candidate who is a Senator Elect.”

Boquist’s second accusation of hostility inside a week

The warning from Dexter Johnson was not the first accusation of workplace hostility against Brian Boquist to emerge last week.

On Wednesday December 12th Boquist also released copies of a letter sent by Senate President Peter Courtney asking him to stop intimidating his fellow senators and legislative employees.

“Senator, in the recent past, you have communicated with members and staff in a way that creates a hostile and intimidating workplace,” Courtney wrote.

“Your communications have belittled and harassed staff. You must immediately cease and desist communicating in this manner.”

Boquist released the letter, dated November 15th, explaining that he was seeking information on the state’s upcoming requirement to enforce pay equity. The new rules take effect on January 1st thanks to new legislation.

Referring to a email he sent to Courtney in September with 44 questions about requirement, Boquist said, “I asked a list of questions, I got a list of answers back that were frankly, non-answers and they were done in the name of Peter Courtney. And he doesn’t like it when I called him out asking for factual answers.”

Brian Boquist has represented the mid-Willamette Valley, District 12, in the Oregon Senate since 2009. Immediately prior to this he was a member of the Oregon House of Representatives for four years.

Last week’s incidents are just the latest examples of Boquist’s combative legislative style. In February, he sued legislative leaders for enacting what he considered an unconstitutional new tax. In the summer of 2017 he accused a union leader of engaging in political blackmail.

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