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Oregon Republican Drops Complaint Against Democrats For Creating Hostile Workplace

<p>State Sen. Alan Olsen, R-Canby, in the Oregon Senate on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, in Salem, Ore.</p>

Bradley W. Parks

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State Sen. Alan Olsen, R-Canby, in the Oregon Senate on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, in Salem, Ore.

The Oregon Senate Republican who complained Democrats created a hostile workplace in the state Legislature has withdrawn his complaints.

In a letter, Sen. Alan Olsen, R-Canby, wrote he continues to believe referring to someone as a "terrorist" creates a harmful work environment, but nonetheless he was withdrawing the complaints lodged. 

Olsen accused Democrats of making it uncomfortable for Senate Republicans to return to work after they staged a nine-day boycott earlier this summer.

Olsen’s complaints alleged the comments of Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, that the Republican walkout last legislative session was an act of terrorism had precipitated a “hostile workplace upon” the Republicans' return. Olsen also blamed Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, and House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, for failing to stop “the insidious language” and therefore allowing “fear and distrust to spread.”

An investigation into the comments determined all of the allegations were unfounded.

The attorney Sarah Ryan, with the firm Jackson Lewis P.C., who led the investigation charges $505 per hour. The legal firm charged the state $46,730 for the investigation. 

The comments by Democrats came in the wake of threats made by another Republican, State Sen. Brian Boquist, R-Dallas, toward Oregon state troopers at the end of the last legislative session. 

Sen. Fred Girod, R-Stayton, was one of the senators who fled and is a member of the legislative conduct committee.

He echoed Olsen's statements on Thursday, saying because of the comments made by Democrats his colleagues received a lot of threats. 

Later, however, he added, “It’s a bunch of third graders in the sand box for the whole 9 yards.”

Copyright 2019 Oregon Public Broadcasting

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Lauren Dake is a political reporter and producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting. Before OPB, Lauren spent nearly a decade working as a print reporter. She’s covered politics and rural issues in Oregon and Washington.