If there’s anything that frustrates Oregonians, it’s politicians or government employees using their position for personal advantage.
It’s one thing when the behavior is clearly illegal. Fortunately, Oregon politicians and public employees don’t get indicted for taking bribes left and right.
It can be just as frustrating, though, when there is nothing criminal but the activity smells bad.
Courtesy of Oregon’s deputy secretary of state — former state Rep. Richard Vial — Oregonians have another example. He was hired by Secretary of State Bev Clarno in April. And he has been representing clients with pending cases before a state agency when the secretary of state’s office has auditing power over those agencies, according to reporting by The Oregonian.
A month after Vial was hired he “represented two separate landowners appealing Washington County land use decisions. On May 16, Vial appeared at a two-and-a-half hour pair of hearings in Hillsboro for the two cases,” the newspaper reported.
Those hearings occurred during normal business hours, lasting about two and a half hours. Vial didn’t take a vacation day from his job as deputy secretary of state. He recorded his hours as a normal eight-hour workday, according to his time sheet.
Of course, he may have worked a full eight hours at his day job in addition to the moonlighting. “I am not paid hourly,” Vial told The Oregonian. “I am paid as an employee who is basically working 24-7.”
The two cases are now scheduled to be before the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals. That board can be audited by the secretary of state’s office.
There may be no clear legal or ethical violation for what Vial did. We should note, though, that he did not bother to seek an advice letter from the Oregon Government Ethics Commission.
If Vial isn’t making enough with his $172,000 state salary, he should solicit advice from the ethics commission on his moonlighting. And if it still gives the appearance of impropriety, Vial shouldn’t do it.