In the wake of an ongoing vote-trading controversy surrounding state Rep. Greg Smith, R-Heppner, and top House Democrats Dave Hunt and Peter Buckley, Oregon Republican Party Chairman Bob Tiernan filed an ethics complaint against the two Democrats on Thursday.
Tiernan filed the complaint with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission, accusing the two of "trading millions of taxpayer dollars for votes to pass a huge tax increase" on families and businesses, according to the Oregon Republican Party.
Smith was one of only two Republicans - along with Rep. Bob Jenson of Pendleton - to vote for a personal tax increase that cleared the House on Tuesday. Smith said this week he voted largely on the condition that millions of dollars for Eastern Oregon projects be included in the 2009-11 budget. He also asked support for extending a tax break on logging equipment.
Hunt, the House Speaker, and Buckley signed a letter making those and other promises, but have denied they were made in exchange for any vote on Smith's part.
Tiernan called the described deal "not only inappropriate, but illegal" in a letter to the OGEC.
"This is the kind of 'pay for play' politics which Oregonians hate,"?Tiernan said in a released statement. "Our ethics commission complaint against the speaker is intended to expose the pork barrel practices of the Democrats in Salem which have made Oregon one of the highest-taxed states in the country."
The two Democrats aren't the only ones facing heat over the matter. Smith and Jenson have drawn the ire of other state Republicans after their votes on the income tax hike, plus Jenson's vote for a corporate tax increase. Both tax bills passed the House and Senate this week.