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Outgoing state Sen. Kruse issues 'final newsletter (maybe)' on harassment case

In this July 8, 2005, file photo, state Sen. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, makes remarks before a vote at the state Capitol in Salem. Kruse announced his resignation last February after an independent investigator said more than 10 women accused him of inappropriate or unwelcome touching. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, file)

Outgoing Oregon state Sen. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, issued what he called "my final newsletter ... maybe" on Friday.

The statement posted on Facebook addressed the harassment allegations that led to his resignation, which takes effect on Thursday.

In a brief phone conversation with a KATU reporter Saturday, Kruse declined an opportunity to be interviewed about the post saying it would speak for itself.

Kruse has denied allegations an independent investigator made in a bombshell report sent to lawmakers in early February. The report described a "longstanding pattern of Senator Kruse engaging in unwelcome physical contact toward females in the workplace" saying more than 10 women accused him of inappropriate or unwelcome touching.

Kruse's Friday Facebook post says in part:

"I was accused of sexual harassment by two female senators. Basically, this was all part of the 'me too' movement that has swept the country. Interestingly I was not actually accused of things of a sexual nature, just inappropriate things like hugs ... The whole thing was scripted and designed to a specific end, in my opinion for the potential political gain of a few."

State Sen. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, was the first to file an informal complaint about Kruse in 2016. She and state Sen. Elizabeth Steiner-Hayward, D-Beaverton, filed formal complaints last year.

Regarding Kruse's Facebook post, Gelser issued the following statement on Saturday:

"Butt cupping, unwanted shoulder massages, uninvited kisses or telling a young intern she is sexy are behaviors that are inappropriate in any workplace. When victims speak up, we should listen, take their complaints seriously and when confirmed through an independent investigation we should hold those who commit these violations accountable, regardless of political party."

Kruse's statement also said the independent investigator, Dian "Dee" Rubanoff, an attorney in Lake Oswego, showed "incredible bias" and that "there was nothing fair or honest about any of this."

"Prime example, two members of the House were accused of worse things than I was, but because they are Democrats nothing happened," his statement said. "The benefits of one party (sic) rule."

Rubanoff told KATU she encourages people to read her report, which was made public, before making conclusions.

Aaron Fielder, the communications director for Oregon House Democrats, said he suspects the Democrats Kruse mentioned were state Rep. Diego Hernandez, D-Portland, and state Rep. David Gomberg, D-Otis.

Last September, KATU's news partner, Willamette Week, reported Hernandez was cleared of anonymous rumors that he maintained a list of female lobbyists during the 2017 session, ranking them by "attractiveness and certain physical attributes."

In October, Gomberg issued an apology following reports he violated women's personal spaces. The announcement came after the Oregonian unveiled two informal complaints against him. House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, issued a statement saying the situation was resolved to the satisfaction of the complainants.

Following is the entire statement Kruse posted on Friday:

"MY FINAL NEWSLETTER

(MAYBE)

I did miss sending these during the February Session that just ended, but I also missed doing my job. For those who don’t know, I was accused of sexual harassment by two female Senators. Basically, this was all part of the 'me too' movement that has swept the country. Interestingly I was not actually accused of things of a sexual nature, just inappropriate things like hugs, which have gone on in the Legislature for the whole twenty plus years I have served. The whole thing was scripted and designed to a specific end, in my opinion for the potential political gain of a few. When it became apparent that those in power were not interested in the truth I had a hard decision to make. I really wanted to have a chance for my side of this to be heard, but I wasn’t sure that would happen based on the bias the media had already demonstrated.

I have always put the Legislature and all that it means ahead of personal needs or wishes. When it became apparent that the majority party had already decided what the outcome was going to be even before all the information was available, it left me with two choices. The first would have been to go through the whole process, which would have been a major distraction especially during the short session, knowing what the outcome would be. The second was to resign so the Legislature could focus on the real business. Even though I truly wanted my due process rights I chose to resign, in the best interest of the Senate. Having said that, I would suggest those making the allegations might actually have been putting other priorities first.

I have a lot more I could say on this subject, for example the incredible bias demonstrated by the 'independent investigator,' but maybe I should stop here. There was nothing fair or honest about any of this. Prime example, two members of the House were accused of worse things than I was, but because they are Democrats nothing happened. The benefits of one party rule.

It has been my honor to serve in the Legislature for the last 22 years and I have always tried to do what I thought was the right thing. I hope that some of you will remember me for my work and not this soap opera I have been going through. I appreciate all of the communications over the years as they have been very helpful. With that I will say good bye for now.

Sincerely,

Senator Jeff Kruse"


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