Reports say former congressman dead
Former Oregon Second District Congressman Wes Cooley, whose tenure in Congress was cut short when it was discovered he had lied about his military service, has reportedly died. Several media outlets have reported on his death, and current Second District Congressman Greg Walden has offered his condolences to the family, but the Associated Press says it has not been able to confirm the death.
Cooley, 82, reportedly died at St. Charles Medical Center in Bend.
Cooley was elected in 1992 and served one term in Congress. But he dropped out of a reelection campaign following publication of a story in the Mail Tribune that showed his claims to have served in combat in Korea were false.
In the 1994 Voters' Pamphlet, Cooley listed his military experience as "Special Forces, Korea," but military records obtained by the newspaper showed that he never saw combat or served in the special forces.
The former rancher and longtime owner of a vitamin-repackaging company was eventually convicted of a felony in 1997 for making a false statement in an election document and was sentenced to probation. In 2009, he was indicted on money laundering and tax-evasion charges related to an investment scheme, and in 2012 was sentenced to one year in prison and ordered to pay $3.5 million in restitution.
Walden, who has represented Oregon's Second District since 1999, offered his condolences Thursday.
"Despite his various legal issues over the last 20 years,” Walden said in a statement, “I know he cared deeply about the rural West and the country."