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Breidenthal still traveling on thin ice

Doug Breidenthal doesn't get it.

The Jackson County commissioner whose travel spending has been questioned in an ethics complaint told his two colleagues in a Tuesday work session that he plans to continue his peripatetic ways next year, including trips to Washington, D.C., to lobby members of Congress.

Breidenthal has spent more than $73,000 on travel in the past three years, and this year alone has missed more than 30 meetings.

Fellow commissioners Rick Dyer and Colleen Roberts said they will not make many of the possible trips in the interest of saving the county money.

Breidenthal insisted the travel is important because Congress authorizes payments to western counties to offset lost timber revenue. He also said he plans to advocate for policies that will put local residents back to work in the woods, and that East Coast lawmakers don't understand how logging cutbacks hurt rural Western counties.

Western timber counties have been telling Congress for decades that logging is important and timber payments are crucial. A visit from one commissioner from Jackson County, Oregon, is unlikely to make much difference on either front. And if Breidenthal plans to bring up claims he's made in the past that counties can essentially "take back" federal land, he's unlikely to find a warm welcome on Capitol Hill.

More to the point, Breidenthal appears to be oblivious to the questions raised about his travel in past years and the amount of taxpayers' money he has spent doing it.

Dyer noted that one commissioner has limited impact on federal decisions, and he hasn't seen much effect from previous trips.

Neither have we.

What we have seen is a county commissioner who seems more interested in pursuing a "leadership" position in a national group not directly connected to Jackson County than in sticking around and tending to business at home. And he still faces a potential ethics investigation over his acceptance of contributions to a fund he used to campaign for that position with the Western Interstate Region, a subgroup of the National Association of Counties.

Breidenthal would be well advised to wait until that issue is resolved before booking many more trips.