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The strange case of the missing Oregon Republican State senators

Written By: - Date published: 1:45 pm, June 24th, 2019 - 67 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, climate change, democracy under attack, democratic participation, Dirty Politics, global warming, Politics, science, sustainability, uncategorized, us politics, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:

The right have a few mainstays to their belief systems.  These include the importance of working for a living and how great and wonderful American democracy is.  

But there are a bunch of Republicans who are currently skiving off work just so they can frustrate the will of a democratically elected majority.  They are all Republican Senators of the Oregon Senate who have taken for the hills so that they do not have to vote one a measure.  And what measure is this you may ask?  What could be such an awful proposal that senators would leave en masse and get the assistance of a nut job local militia?

The measure is a declaration that we live in a climate crisis coupled with meaningful steps to reduce the effects.

From Mary Papenfuss at Huffington Post:

Oregon citizens and state troopers are keeping an eye peeled for AWOL Republican state senators who by being absent from their legislative jobs are stonewalling a vote on stricter pollution standards to battle climate change.

All 11 of the chamber’s GOP senators walked out of a legislative session Thursday and are in hiding to block passage of the historic bill.

They don’t have the votes to stop it the old-fashioned, democratic way.

The walkout leaves the Senate two people short of a required quorum before a vote can be held.

A rightwing militia group has vowed to “protect” the senators from any miffed voters — or police.

A special legislative session had been planned Saturday but the Capitol building in Salem was shut down by law enforcement authorities as a safety precaution, Reuters reported.

The State Police superintendent informed the Senate president of a “credible threat from militia groups coming to the Capitol,” read a text sent to senators Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported. “The superintendent strongly recommends that no one come to the Capitol.”

Several senators have claimed they left the state to avoid detection by state troopers, who have been ordered to retrieve them by Gov. Kate Brown (D).

Police said that “outside” agencies are helping them keep tabs on the errant senators.

Apparently the Republican Senators want a “bipartisan” and “less complicated” bill.

Dang why can’t they make climate change easier so that even Republicans can understand it and agree on what needs to be done.

67 comments on “The strange case of the missing Oregon Republican State senators”

  1. Dennis Frank 1

    Best bit: "Several senators have claimed they left the state to avoid detection by state troopers, who have been ordered to retrieve them by Gov. Kate Brown (D)."

    Democracy is compulsory, so we will sic state agents onto you, to force you to do it! Thus the left, exhibiting statist compulsion tendencies. Rightists believe democracy is optional, and the senators took off for a rest because the work got too hard. Who's right??

    If the law says the legislators must attend senate sessions, then the left are right! I await the legal action from the state attorney-general! Meanwhile, the world awaits a tweet on the situation from the denier-in-chief.

    • greywarshark 1.1

      I would imagine that the politicians go through a ceremony probably with their hand on a bible vowing to faithfully fulfil their duties as representatives of the people and in accordance with the rules of the place of politics where they carry out their lawmaking etc.

    • Gabby 1.2

      They're not doing the job they're paid to do, and they're inciting treason franko. Bad praxis.

    • fustercluck 1.3

      An alternative perspective:

      Wingnut governor elected on the back of identity politics threatens legislators frustrated with persistent anti-democratic emergency legislative processes to flee the state under threat of arrest at gunpoint.

      I agree it is a terrible situation but there is more to it than what is being portrayed here.

    • Paul Campbell 1.4

      Yes, that's already the law in Oregon, if elected and sworn in they are required to attend sessions – it's why they are being fined $500/day and the police have been sent out to round them up, they are breaking the law

  2. AB 2

    Here I go again labouring the obvious:

    – if democracy ceases to be merely an empty shell obscuring the operation of naked economic power, the Right will not support it

    – the holders of economic power will align themselves with the most socially regressive and authoritarian elements in society (such as militias) when they feel threatened.

    • Dennis Frank 2.1

      Good points. This crisis has been a few days in process already. ""Protesting cap and trade by walking out today represents our constituency and exactly how we should be doing our job," Senate Republican Leader Herman Baertschiger Jr. said in a statement Thursday. "We have endured threats of arrest, fines, and pulling community project funds from the Governor, Senate President and Majority Leader. We will not stand by and be bullied by the majority party any longer." https://edition.cnn.com/2019/06/20/politics/kate-brown-oregon-republican-senators-police-climate-change/index.html

      Good ploy, presenting in public as the victims of bullying. Appealing to compassionate voters. Hoping they won't see them as juvenile delinquents, but refugees from govt oppression. Seeing the reps of the wealthy & powerful cowering in fear is unusual, eh? Now the nasty police are chasing them, so they had to run & hide.

      • Dukeofurl 2.1.1

        Why is it dodgy it authorise police action .

        The State Senate could be like NZ and have considerable powers of arrest.

        https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/the-house/audio/2018640364/did-you-know-parliament-can-arrest-you

        • Dennis Frank 2.1.1.1

          Seems so to me. No media reports of any law-breaking by the senators. Govt orders to arrest them seem dodgy if no legal basis to do so exists. Could be there is indeed a legal basis, but the media haven't reported it as yet. Your equivalence to our power of parliament to do so, for instance. I get that the media hate to have to spend time researching facts and would rather just report politics instead…

          • Dukeofurl 2.1.1.1.1

            Parliaments can arrest thats why. I suppose its considered a contempt of parliament or any other reason they give.

            In Washington they have their own Capitol Police , but it seems not in Oregon, so thats why the State police are involved

            Something similar has happened in early days in NZ

            Lock the doors!

            Just a week or so after he took up his duties in August 1854, Sergeant-at Arms Deck had to assert his position during an unruly debate. Opposition members who did not want to vote on an issue tried to flee the House in order to remove the quorum of members necessary for a vote to be taken. Someone shouted 'Lock the doors!', which Deck did, thinking that the Speaker had given him an order. As MPs chased each other around the House, clambered into the public gallery and shouted about a quorum, the Sergeant threatened to take them into custody

            It would be good to have an opinion on a factual basis rather than just asserting it..

            https://nzhistory.govt.nz/politics/parliaments-people/staff

          • Dukeofurl 2.1.1.1.2

            The Senate President authorised the Governor to have police arrest and return the State Senators.

            Same powers NZ Speakers have to authorise arrest for contempt.

          • Dukeofurl 2.1.1.1.3

            The Senate President authorised the Governor to have police arrest and return the State Senators.

            Same powers NZ Speakers have to authorise arrest for contempt.

          • Dukeofurl 2.1.1.1.4

            The Senate President authorised the Governor to have police arrest and return the State Senators.

            Same powers NZ Speakers have to authorise arrest for contempt.

            • Dennis Frank 2.1.1.1.4.1

              I get it. Those state powers derive from the US Constitution, I presume. In which case the Republicans are creating a public reputation of repugnance, I guess. Delinquent, even if not juvenile.

              Still, as you have documented, if it is seen by voters as part of their traditional political culture to do that, voters will react on a partisan basis. Ho hum…

              • Dukeofurl

                Each State has its own constitution, its not generally derived from the Federal constitution at all.

                The parliament of Oregon can pass its own laws for what powers of arrest they can or cant do.

                Even in NZ a Judge can issue an arrest warrant, if a witness doesnt appear before the court.

                Its not really that unusual to have arrest powers to compel attendance

              • Paul Campbell

                In this case the state has already passed a law allowing this to happen

          • Andre 2.1.1.1.5

            Have you actually looked yourself? Coz a quick google turned up this media report of the statues in question:

            What statute gives Gov. Brown authority do direct Oregon State Patrol to go after legislators?

            Article IV, section 12 of the Oregon Constitution and Senate Rule 3.01(2) provides the Senate can compel the attendance of members to establish a quorum. The Oregon State Police, at the direction of the Governor, may assist the Sergeant-at-Arms by returning absent members. Under the authority of ORS 181A.090, (The state police, with the approval of the Governor, may be called upon by any other branch or department of the state government to enforce criminal laws or any regulation of such branch or department. [Formerly 181.050] ) Governor Brown directed the State Police Superintendent to attempt to return absent members.

            https://www.kgw.com/article/news/qa-how-will-oregon-state-police-go-about-finding-gop-senators-who-walked-out/283-51dfe4f9-cbcc-4969-896d-9ec9635caff2

            • Dennis Frank 2.1.1.1.5.1

              So it must be an act of political theatre. Force the democrats into playing the state control card, eh? Make non-partisan voters believe the right are being victimised. Trump will trumpet it soon…

              • Andre

                If it's political theatre, seems to me it's more likely a play to the base to reduce the risk of getting primaried. There appear to be very few actually competitive districts for the Oregon Senate, most results are very lopsided.

                • Dennis Frank

                  I found an in-depth appraisal worth reading here: https://www.opb.org/news/article/oregon-senate-walkout-cap-trade-climate-bill/

                  Would be interested to see your view of the strategy being used if you do read it…

                  • Andre

                    That report says the Repugs stated rationale for the walkout is that the bill doesn't allow time for a referendum process to go through, thereby denying Oregonians a direct vote on whether to implement the cap-and-trade bill. But it also points out that the alternative process to force it to a statewide vote is only a wee bit more difficult to invoke. The Repugs are also complaining about some major changes they want not getting into the bill, even though they did get a variety of concessions.

                    All in all, that report just reinforces the idea that it's political theatre playing to the base.

    • Chris 2.2

      The right also needs to maintain a level of social dysfunction, usually by containment, but always refusing to address it. For the right social problems have a dual purpose including giving it legitimacy, providing the opportunity to be "tough on crime", "tough on the unemployed" etc, so it can be seen to be doing something. This in turn diverts attention away from its core work which is the movement of wealth into the hands of an ever-diminishing number of people. A blame-the-victim approach to social problems is for the right crucial in this respect. Without social dysfunction the right have no other business being in government.

    • fustercluck 2.3

      AB, the most historically apt examples of the mechanism you are referring to are the tendency for monopoly to cleave to radical leftist movements such as Communism and National Socialism. In terms of body count, the effects of right wing authoritarianism utterly pale in comparison. Total up the deaths caused by Communists in China, Soviet Union, Cambodia, Cuba, etc., toss in the millions killed under the terrible banner of Germany's nationalist form of socialism, and you have numbers more than a couple of orders of magnitude greater than the havoc wrought by right-wing despots.

      You can see it today with Google, Facebook, and the other digital oligarchs doing everything they can to support the most radical factions of the Democratic party and the far left outliers.

      • Dukeofurl 2.3.1

        What about other parties with 'national ' in the name , does that make them facist as well.

        Your idea of history is rubbish, what about facist parties in Italy, Spain even UK . No sign of 'social' in their name . Anyway social as a noun came from the latin as a term for allies

        • fustercluck 2.3.1.1

          Just in terms of body count, the extreme left reigns supreme.

          • Dennis Frank 2.3.1.1.1

            I reached that conclusion years ago. However the point is arguable due to the corrupting effect of absolute power. When Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Hitler made their transition from left-wing activist to dictator, one could argue that they shifted to the extreme right. Categories are relative to context (philosophy).

            • fustercluck 2.3.1.1.1.1

              That is a semantic argument. The historical progression/evolution was that of a leftist movement. Of course, if one accepts your assertion, the inescapable conclusion is that the very worst of the extreme right emerges not from conservatism (what is now branded alt-right) but from leftism!

              • Dennis Frank

                Yeah. It's why various political commentators in recent decades have reconfigured the political spectrum from a linear axis into a circle, where the extreme right & left oppose the moderate centre (when they meet at the opposite point).

  3. Dukeofurl 3

    Similar things have happened in other states.

    Democrats took off in Texas to avoid vote on re-drawing boundaries

    https://www.voanews.com/archive/texas-democrats-flee-neighboring-state-avoid-redistricting-vote-2003-05-15

    And in Wisconsin, the Democrats leaft to avoid a so called budget repair bill, in reality included parts to strip public employees of collective bargaining rights

    https://madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/senate-democrats-flee-the-state-to-stop-vote-on-bill/article_8175dad4-d583-11e0-ba03-001cc4c03286.html

    Its really a form of filibuster, preventing a vote from happening.

    Its happening here in NZ as well with Catholic National party MPs filibustering Seymours end of life bill.

    Quorum busting used be common in the US Senate as well. The rules allowed the Serjeant at Arms to arrest the members to force them to attend.
    “Late on the night of February 25, 1988, Republicans hoping to kill a campaign-finance bill fled the U.S. Senate to prevent a quorum. Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd ordered sergeant-at-arms Henry Giugni to “arrest the absent senators and bring them to the chamber.” Giugni spotted Sen. Steve Symms of Idaho but Symms skedaddled fast enough to escape. Then a cleaning woman revealed that Sen. Robert Packwood of Oregon was hiding in his office. When Giugni and two aides used a skeleton key to enter the locked office, Packwood tried to slam the door in their faces. Overpowered and arrested, he agreed to walk to the Capitol but demanded that the cops carry him into the chamber. He arrived, feet first, at 1:17 in the morning.”
    https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/minute/Quorum_busting.htm
    “In 1920, when the constitutional amendment to give women the right to vote had passed 35 of the 36 states necessary for ratification, two dozen members of the Tennessee House of Representatives fled to Decatur, Ala., in the hopes of preventing Tennessee from making woman suffrage a reality. They failed. ”

    Abraham Lincoln was part of a quorum buster when he was a state representative in Illinois
    https://www.historynet.com/quorum-busters.htm

    • Dennis Frank 3.1

      Well, okay, then it must be legal, eh? In which case the Governor is doing something dodgy by sending the cops after them.

      "Every story should include the most germane element. Why the Republican walked and what they want. It is the Emergency Clause Democrats added to prohibit the public petitioning of their government. There seems to be a concerted effort by the bill supporters to conceal and/or deny this. That makes the Democrat behavior even worse. Legislatively prohibiting signature gathering along with deceit to conceal it."

      That insight from a commentator on this page: https://www.oregonlive.com/politics/2019/06/oregon-republican-senators-walkout-what-you-need-to-know-today.html

      • greywarshark 3.1.1

        I could not see in that link any mention of the Emergency Clause. So which commenter covered that? Why did Democrats stop a public petition? Have they already canvassed all the people they need to and it was just a delaying tactic? Presumably they have more than 51% of the people (as in the UK situation), with their climate change measures? It would be interesting to know more, so do we have a link?

        • Dukeofurl 3.1.1.1

          They oppose the Cap and Trade Bill, and a few weeks back it was an Education Bill.

          What Emergency clause are you talking about , Fake Facts again?

          • Dennis Frank 3.1.1.1.1

            "HB 2020 contains an emergency clause, which ensures that it would take effect once signed by the governor. Otherwise, the law wouldn’t kick in until 91 days after the legislative session adjourns. (The actual cap-and-trade system wouldn’t roll out until 2021.)" https://www.opb.org/news/article/oregon-senate-walkout-cap-trade-climate-bill/

            • Dukeofurl 3.1.1.1.1.1

              They can still get a referendum of the voters after its been in passed to have it rejected . Its a fake problem after all. As pointed out it doesnt come into effect till after the next election and referendums

              It seems that they want all their concerns…. politics doesnt usually work that way, as from the link many other clauses have been watered down

  4. WeTheBleeple 4

    Certainly grounds for locking up and disarming the 3%'ers (median SAT score for the group).

    That'd make the Republicans quake in their boots.

    Might get them to do their job too.

    Left or right, paid to serve not skive.

  5. riffer 5

    If I took to the hills to avoid having to do something at work, and was absent for more than three days my workplace could consider me to have abandoned my employment. How is this different?

    • Dukeofurl 5.1

      They are elected, they arent employees.

      In US this sort of tactic is surprisingly common for well over a 100 years

      • greywarshark 5.1.1

        But they are paid. Will no-one relieve us of these accursed politicians I say! All promise, and no delivery. Is there a Fair Trading Red-actment for pollies?

        • Dukeofurl 5.1.1.1

          They seem to have been fined for non attendance $500 per day.

          Hone Harawira used to make it a pattern to be in his electorate rather than attend sittings in Wellington.

          • greywarshark 5.1.1.1.1

            Hone did, did he? Well that shows bad faith I think, no matter what his reasons and rationalisation. Thanks for that info. I presume it isn't fake news!

            • solkta 5.1.1.1.1.1

              "Having spoken with the Greens I am happy to say that we have reached an agreement whereby they cast my votes and ask any questions that have been allocated to me, when I am unable to be in the house," he said.

              "I am grateful for their support because it means that I don't need to be in the house for every vote on every reading of every bill, amendment and motion, although as with the Marine and Coastal Area Bill, I will ensure that I am in the house for all major bills affecting Maori."

              https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10719244

  6. Dukeofurl 6

    We had a variation of the quorum busting here , with national Mps playing hide and seek outside the committee door

    Parliament meeting collapses as National MPs walk out

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12203369

  7. I say good on the Republicans. The Democrats are guilty of the same in the past.

    • greywarshark 7.1

      clive macan't

      Why should we do the right thing and not walk out They did it too once. So there. Playground 101.

  8. WeTheBleeple 8

    Sounds like the Quorum rule needs a rethink. So if you are not on the job you might be culpable of lending advantage to the opposition. Then you are pissing off your own team not faffing about with the opposition.Votes can still be carried for absentee members by present members, but none of this we can just leave and throw everything into disarray malarkey.

    • RedLogix 8.1

      Quite simple I would have thought. Miss three sitting days without written permission from the Chair/Speaker, you are struck off and the quorum threshold reduced accordingly.

      • Craig H 8.1.1

        Eminently sensible.

      • Grumpy 8.1.2

        Except they are unlikely to raise a quorum to pass that rule……..

        • Andre 8.1.2.1

          Around half of them are going to have to front up back in Oregon before November 2020 if they want to get re-elected. The other half can hold out until November 2022 …

        • Gabby 8.1.2.2

          Maybe the Governor can declare their seats vacant and appoint replacements gumpy.

  9. joe90 9

    Barking,

    The rising political tension in Oregon’s state legislature seemed to have reached its acme Wednesday, when Republican State Senator Brian Boquist suggested that he would kill any state trooper Governor Kate Brown sent to bring him back to the State Capitol against his will.

    […]

    “This is what I told the superintendent,” Boquist said Thursday, referring to OSP Superintendent Travis Hampton. “Send bachelors and come heavily armed. I’m not going to be a political prisoner in the state of Oregon. It’s just that simple.”

    https://lawandcrime.com/crazy/gop-state-senator-threatened-oregon-state-troopers-governor-immediately-called-his-bluff/

    • WeTheBleeple 9.1

      You'se kin make me do mah job over mah cold deed body!

      • greywarshark 9.1.1

        Reading the above lingo, I found that I just had to give you this gift of a vignette from Blazing Saddles.

    • RedLogix 9.2

      Look at the comment thread under the article. The cultural polarisation in the USA is frightening, both sides of the issue now openly advocating murder. As strongly as I feel about climate change, as barking these delinquent Senators are on the issue, our collective inability to maintain a civil discourse is utterly pathological.

    • Dennis Frank 10.1

      Easy. No order from the governor despatching cops to hunt down and capture the fleeing legislators. Next question.

      • Gosman 10.1.1

        The response is different but the concept is exactly the same would you not agree?

        • Dennis Frank 10.1.1.1

          Yeah. Elsewhere someone posted enough other instances to prove there's a pattern of history sufficient to embed the behaviour as a known option in US politics. News to me, actually. Probably because past reportage framed it as one-off bizarre behaviour rather than strategic ploy…

      • Muttonbird 10.1.2

        The Police appear to be involved because the senators are hiding out with a bunch of toothless, heavily armed and trigger-happy hicks.

        • Dennis Frank 10.1.2.1

          I read in the local Oregon media reportage that the militia were volunteering to protect the deserters from the cops. Then the state republicans put out a statement declaring that they didn't want the militia to help. Political solidarity is fractured on the right nowadays as much as on the left…

    • WeTheBleeple 10.2

      It's not. The above ideas on the quorum, examined and expanded on, might fix the issue.

      The issue to me here, is the Democrats in both instances (not a fan) are trying to do things beneficial to the public as in address a dying planet and the relentless impoverishment of Americas working class via workers and human rights degradation, and privatisation of all their services.

      Trumps mob, with a large chunk of the public voting for them, are only servicing the 1%. May the rosy tinted glasses break.

      Homeless tent cities are springing up everywhere. Their 'great economy' is utterly broken (unless you are 1%) and looks set to collapse into civil war if the Billionaire class via politics continue to force hardship on their communities. Left or right wing doesn't matter divide and rule tactics are pitting class against class, right against left, gender against gender and race against race. It's a filthy vile shit show.

      Armed groups mobilised and were present in Charlotsville and many other 'lawful' assemblies recently. Flak jackets, semi autos, let's go listen to the speeches…

      Left wing people are now buying more guns (source NRA) and the gun manufacturers are having a field day. It wont end well.

      Alternately to total chaos and arms sales they might have been leading the world right now, and they'd not be an international joke.

      Profits for a few, destruction of 'the greatest [yeah, right] nation on earth'.

    • Macro 10.3

      Actually you have a point there

      .In both cases the issue is about collective responsibility and social justice, and in both cases the democrats take the side of working for social justice and collective responsibility.

      from your link:

      As Republicans tried to begin Senate business Thursday, observers in the gallery screamed "Freedom! Democracy! Unions!" Opponents of the bill cheered when a legislative leader announced that there were not enough senators present to proceed.

      Authorities said an estimated 25,000 people participated in Thursday's protest; nine demonstrators were arrested.

      The proposal marks a dramatic shift for Wisconsin, which passed a comprehensive collective bargaining law in 1959 and was the birthplace of the national union representing all nonfederal public employees.

      In addition to eliminating collective bargaining rights, the legislation also would make public workers pay half the costs of their pensions and at least 12.6 percent of their health care coverage, increases Walker calls "modest" compared with those in the private sector.

      Walker of course doesn't compare the salaries of teachers in Wisconsin to the salaries of equivalently qualified professionals in the private sector

  10. Jum 11

    This is like watching Star Wars; NZ fighting for good and USa turning to the dark side.

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