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Oregon senator, a war veteran, now under fire for threats

An Oregon state senator who once worked in the world's hotspots as a contractor and soldier now finds himself under fire over threats he made during a Republican revolt over climate legislation.

Posted: Jul 8, 2019 11:01 AM
Updated: Jul 8, 2019 2:12 PM

CLICK HERE for the outcome of the Senate hearing reported in this story.


By ANDREW SELSKY Associated Press

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon state senator who once worked in the world's hotspots as a contractor and soldier now finds himself under fire over threats he made during a Republican revolt over climate legislation.

Sen. Brian Boquist, a veteran who served in Iraq, warned Senate President Peter Courtney that if he sent the State Police to force him to return during the walkout by the minority Republicans, "hell is coming to visit you personally."

Courtney later asked Gov. Kate Brown, a fellow Democrat, to order the state police to bring the Republicans back so the Senate could reach a quorum. When Brown did so, the senators fled the state.

Boquist said he would resist any attempt to be forced to return to the state Capitol and advised state police, in front of a TV news camera, to "send bachelors and come heavily armed."

He now faces a hearing by colleagues over his statements.

The walkout marked Oregon's most rancorous legislative session in memory. Demonstrators, including loggers and truckers who said they'd be financially ruined by carbon cap, protested on behalf of the absent senators. One planned session had to be canceled because of a purported militia threat.

The GOP senators returned only after Courtney said Democrats lacked the votes to pass the climate-change bill.

A Senate special committee on conduct will hold a hearing Monday over Boquist's behavior. He has submitted several documents for the inquiry, including a U.S. Supreme Court ruling supporting a Georgia lawmaker's First Amendment rights to free speech in the 1960s.

Boquist said in an interview with The Associated Press that state police had no authority to apprehend senators.

"The Oregon State Police ... are restricted to making an arrest based on probable criminal charges," he said, adding that all troopers could do is request lawmakers return.

As for Monday's hearing, Boquist told AP in an email he he's not sure what the legal purpose or intent of the proceedings are.

"I certainly see zero due process with a refusal to provide any requested public records," he wrote.

The controversy has fueled Boquist's reputation as a maverick.

On the last day of the legislative session last month he was the only Republican to vote for a measure aimed at providing publicly funded, affordable and comprehensive health care to all state residents.

In 2017, he bucked the National Rifle Association in co-sponsoring a bill allowing guns to be taken away from people deemed at risk of suicide or harming others. Boquist's stepson, a Navy veteran, died by suicide in 2016.

Boquist, 60, was with the Army Reserve for years, retiring as a lieutenant colonel with the special forces after an Iraq deployment, his campaign literature says. He was first elected to the Legislature in 2004.

Before that, he helped run International Charter Incorporated of Oregon, or ICI, which flew logistical support missions in conflict zones. ICI's first mission was in support of a peacekeeping force in Liberia in 1996 during a civil war. It was financed with $275,000 in cash that a U.S. official provided in a suitcase, Boquist said. ICI leased three Russian helicopters, flew them to Liberia from Russia aboard Antonov planes, only to see two of them shot up during a rebel offensive. Other missions followed, including in Haiti, Sierra Leone and other far-flung nations.

Eventually, the contracts dried up and Boquist had a financial dispute with a partner. He then got into providing training sites in the United States for troops about to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Republican boycott raised questions over how far officials can go to compel a return to the Capitol.

The state Constitution does not specify whether the governor, or anyone else, can order the state police to do so. Nor do the Senate rules. The documents only say that lawmakers can "compel the attendance of absent members."

The governor told a press conference Monday that she wants something done.

"Sen. Boquist's behavior was unbecoming of an elected official, and an embarrassment to the entire state of Oregon," Brown said. "I expect the Senate to hold him accountable."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 392197

Reported Deaths: 5186
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah60432839
Washington42082398
Marion39986507
Clackamas32861382
Lane30179358
Jackson24956361
Deschutes23639185
Umatilla15135182
Linn14704179
Douglas13438292
Josephine10201246
Yamhill9787143
Klamath9072147
Polk8248102
Benton611138
Malheur592790
Coos5693107
Columbia433356
Jefferson420866
Lincoln363852
Union339255
Crook336356
Wasco317046
Clatsop262735
Baker220833
Tillamook217045
Hood River214537
Morrow197825
Curry192439
Harney119933
Grant108515
Lake105616
Wallowa76013
Sherman1913
Gilliam1854
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5087907

Reported Deaths: 74561
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles152858627184
San Diego4074794340
Riverside3880835358
San Bernardino3748555967
Orange3346265736
Sacramento1684922447
Kern1578751804
Fresno1568972259
Santa Clara1522681929
Alameda1252361507
San Joaquin1076041834
Ventura1040841191
Contra Costa1038691046
Stanislaus915481417
Tulare861371099
San Francisco56931672
San Mateo56354629
Monterey52521626
Solano47693358
Santa Barbara47345553
Merced45086668
Sonoma43207412
Placer42204470
Imperial38516773
Kings35221362
San Luis Obispo31511360
Madera26233311
Shasta26113458
Butte25476318
Santa Cruz22268224
Yolo21590260
Marin18495249
El Dorado18325166
Sutter14577186
Napa13424105
Yuba1076389
Tehama10282130
Humboldt10183119
Nevada10029105
Mendocino857799
Lassen797656
San Benito782979
Tuolumne774691
Lake7046110
Amador578366
Siskiyou475855
Glenn457436
Calaveras442288
Del Norte376942
Colusa325921
Inyo256746
Plumas19397
Mono18924
Mariposa160718
Trinity99817
Modoc7725
Sierra2180
Alpine1080
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