Pubdate: Thu, 02 Aug 2012
Source: Albany Democrat-Herald (OR)
Copyright: 2012 Lee Enterprises


 From Medford comes a story that proves again that the secretary of
state's Elections Division has been far too picky when it comes to the
issue of campaigning on the public's dime.

The agency fined two Medford police officials $75 each for comments
they made in 2010 about a pending initiative concerning medical
marijuana dispensaries. They were deemed to have violated Oregon's
election law against using public resources to campaign for or against
anyone or anything.

The Medford Mail Tribune reports that the men appealed their fines,
and now an administrative law judge has vindicated them. That is the
right outcome, but remember that it took an appeal from a decision by
the agency's staff to reach that good result.

Some years ago, Corvallis city officials paid a somewhat larger fine
for the same offense, even though common sense said they did nothing
wrong. Knowledge of that experience stifled Albany officials from
saying much in public about the recent ballot measure to continue and
increase the city's special law enforcement tax levy.

But more recently, the last time this came up in a council meeting,
the word was that the secretary of state was going to be more
reasonable about this sort of thing. If she is now, it evidently
wasn't yet apparent two years ago, when the Medford officials were

Oregon law properly bars the use of public funds to affect the outcome
of elections. But no law should bar public officials from giving
honest answers when somebody asks them what they think about a
proposed law change affecting their work, whether it's about marijuana
or anything else.

Thanks are owed those Medford cops. They did a good thing by
challenging this wrongful fine.
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MAP posted-by: Matt