Oregon Senator Fights Conduct Action Over Threats During Walkout

The Oregon capitol building in Salem.

SALEM, Ore. (CN) – The Republican lawmaker who stoked controversy last week when he implied there would be an armed standoff between Oregon police and his colleagues who walked out of a cap-and-trade bill vote faces a disciplinary action – and he’s not happy about it.

State Senator Brian Boquist sued the Senate President Peter Courtney on Friday, seeking to inspect public records regarding the pending disciplinary action. Boquist cites threats to himself and his family as rationale for his request.

Boquist made national news this month after he and 11 other Republican senators walked away from statehouse to avoid voting on a bill to put a cap on greenhouse gas emissions. When Governor Kate Brown threatened to send state police to bring the legislators back to Salem, Boquist advised police to “send bachelors and come heavily armed.”

He also told Courtney on the Senate floor that “hell’s coming to visit you personally” if the Democrat sent police to get them.

Meanwhile, right-wing militia groups took to the internet and vowed to defend the Republicans from state police. The climate of fear caused legislators to close the Capitol on Saturday, June 22.

In a memo last week, outside counsel for the Oregon Senate recommended barring Boquist from the capitol building.

“I recommend immediate measures be taken to ensure that the capitol is free from threats of (or actual) violence and intimidation,” attorney Brenda Baumgart of Stoel Rives wrote in the memo, which was obtained by local reporters.

State Senator Floyd Prozanski, a Democrat and chair of the Senate Special Subcommittee on Conduct, then filed a formal action against Boquist. A public hearing in the matter is scheduled for Monday. Boquist says the disciplinary action is politically motivated.

“This looks like political retribution coupled with a complete failure of due process that was endangering the lives of my family,” Boquist says in his lawsuit, which he filed pro se.

There are several steps Courtney should have taken but didn’t, Boquist claims. He seeks an injunction and production of the communications he’s requested related to the action against him.

Despite the Republicans’ refusal to vote on the climate bill, Brown vowed to move forward with legislation – possibly by using her executive power.

“Working on legislation is my preferred approach,” Brown said. “However, given the uncertainty that now permeates Oregon’s political system, I am also directing my staff and agencies to explore alternative paths.”

The original proposal, which would have taken effect in 2021, aimed to lower greenhouse gas emissions by 85% of 1990 levels by 2050.

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