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Breidenthal bump from O&C board was a 'surprise'

Jackson County Commissioner Doug Breidenthal failed to muster enough votes Friday to retain his seat on the board of the Association of O&C Counties, losing out to fellow Commissioner Colleen Roberts.

“This was a complete surprise to me,” Breidenthal said Tuesday.

Breidenthal, who is the subject of an Oregon Government Ethics Commission complaint filed by Jackson County, said he didn’t think Roberts ever attended any O&C Counties meetings previously, and that the position doesn’t fall in line with her other liaison work with the county.

“I was unaware Commissioner Roberts was going to run for the board or had the intent to run for the board,” he said.

Roberts, who said she was nominated but didn’t actively run for the position, said she did attend an O&C Counties meeting in Roseburg June 4 when Breidenthal was absent. She said she also has been concerned about timber harvest issues and their impact on Jackson County.

This is the second time in recent weeks that Breidenthal has lost an important position following the ethics complaint filed by Jackson County on Oct. 22 over a special fund Breidenthal set up to run for a position for a different organization. Breidenthal also was voted out as chairman of the Board of Commissioners on Dec. 1, replaced by Commissioner Rick Dyer.

The Association of O&C Counties, which is concerned with issues regarding management of federal forest lands in Oregon, elected its new officers and board members Friday in Eugene. Columbia County Commissioner Tony Hyde was re-elected president.

Josephine County Commissioner Simon Hare, who was arrested Thursday on drunken-driving charges after leaving a strip club in Eugene and nearly hitting a patrol car, was voted in as the O&C Counties board vice president. Hare, who was previously secretary/treasurer of the board, was booked into the Lane County Jail and released Friday afternoon.

“Simon wasn’t at the meeting but was being detained at the time,” said Lane County Commissioner Faye Stewart, who was the association's previous vice president. Stewart said those gathered at the O&C Counties meeting were unaware that Hare was in jail at the time.

Roberts said she wasn’t sure why she got more votes than Breidenthal but was happy to be selected for a board that has an influence on federal policies regarding timber harvests.

“I went to the meeting, and I was nominated to serve,” she said.

Roberts said Breidenthal encouraged Dyer and her to attend the O&C Counties meeting.

She said 12 candidates vied for the eight positions on the board. She received 21 votes and Breidenthal received 17.

Roberts said she voted for herself as well as for Breidenthal to make sure that Jackson County was represented by the Association of O&C Counties.

The new board position won’t require a lot of travel, with meetings scheduled every quarter, typically either in Roseburg or Eugene, Roberts said.

Jackson County filed an ethics complaint against Breidenthal on Oct. 22 that raised questions about an account set up by the Association of Oregon Counties for Breidenthal’s campaign for an office with the Western Interstate Region. The account raised $12,500 since 2014 from businesses and groups that have had dealings with Jackson County. The Ethics Commission is reviewing the complaint but hasn’t decided yet whether it warrants an investigation.

Breidenthal’s fellow commissioners also have questioned his spending more than $70,000 for travel-related expenses over the past three years as well as missing more than 30 meetings this year.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at @reporterdm.