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Medford top cops will fight $75 fine

Medford's current and former police chiefs will appeal a $75 fine for violating state election laws by allegedly advocating against the passage of Oregon's medical marijuana initiative last fall to the Mail Tribune.

Medford police Chief Tim George and Randy Schoen, who retired from the agency in June, were notified Monday that the Secretary of State's Elections Division ruled the pair stepped too far in outlining what they considered the negative impacts on police agencies should Measure 74 pass. The measure, which would have allowed state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries, failed.

Medford police Deputy Chief Tim Doney and Oregon State Police Sgt. Erik Fisher each received warnings from the elections division for comments they made in Mail Tribune articles but were not fined.

Williams-based marijuana reform advocate Laird Funk filed complaints against all four the day after they were quoted about Measure 74. He claimed they violated state bans on public employees from stumping for or against candidates or measures during work hours.

George said Monday his comments to the Mail Tribune about impacts on the measure's passage were truthful and did not influence anyone to vote any particular way.

"I don't think I violated anything," George said. "It was just the facts."

Schoen also said he believed he did not skirt election law in his comments to the newspaper and that he wants his due process.

George and Schoen said they did not want to simply pay the $75 to put it behind them and instead will request a hearing before a state hearings officer.

"That's not the way I operate," George said. "I don't plead guilty to something I don't think I am guilty of.

"At least I'll get to speak my piece for $75," he said.

Funk called the $75 fines "laughable" for what he considered "corrupting an election."

"I think what that says is we don't care to keep our elections uncorrupted," Funk said.

Doney and Fisher could not immediately be located late Monday for comment.

Funk also filed similar complaints against Grants Pass police Detective H. Ray Myers for comments attributed to him in the Grants Pass Daily Courier. Myers was fined $75 by the elections division.

Brookings Police Chief Chris Wallace was fined $75 for comments he made to the Curry Coastal Pilot, according to the elections division. Wallace's fine stemmed from one of Funk's complaints.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email at mfreeman@mailtribune.com.