A LaPine resident claims that because McLane is an attorney, his presence on the legislature violates the Constitution

After serving Oregon House District 55 for the past three years, Republican Rep. Mike McLane has become the subject of a recall petition.

The legality of McLane’s position in the Oregon Legislature is being challenged by LaPine resident Kenneth Medenbach.

The statement portion of the petition states, “Mike McLane is an Oregon State Bar attorney, serving in the Oregon Legislature. This is a violation of the Separation of Powers doctrine of the Oregon Constitution.”

Medenbach asserted that attorneys are officers of the court, and that the Oregon State Bar is an “instrumentality of the Judicial Department.” He therefore concludes that McLane is charged with official duties under the Judicial Department.

“Mike McLane, an Oregon State Bar attorney, is also serving as a State Representative, exercising the functions of the Legislature Department. This is a violation of Oregon Constitution Article 3, Section 1, Separation of Powers. ‘The powers of government shall be divided into three separate departments, the Legislative, the Executive, including the administrative, and the Judicial, and no person charged with official duties under one of these departments shall exercise functions of another, except as in this Constitution expressly provided.’”

McLane is aware of the petition, which was filed on Dec. 6, but is not threatened by the recall effort. He pointed out that attorneys have served on the legislature at both the state and federal level dating back to the time of America’s founding fathers.

“Any citizen can file a recall petition at any time against any elected official,” McLane said. “I think notoriety is what they are seeking. The question is, do you give it to them?”

Dating back to 2005, Oregon’s Secretary of the State office has filed between one and three recall petitions each year. Most years, only one is filed, and in most cases, they are against county district attorneys. However, three petitions were filed in 2006, and two in 2007, 2012, and 2013. This year marks the only time during the past decade that anyone has sought recall of an Oregon legislator. In addition to McLane, Alan Bates, who serves Senate District 3, is facing a recall petition. Bates is a Democrat and is not an attorney.

Data regarding the number of signatures gathered by Medenbach could not be obtained by press deadline, although he has until March 6, 2014 to collect 4,980 of them. If he collects enough verifiable signatures, the recall will go forward on the ballot regardless of the reasoning behind the petition.

According to Tony Green, spokesman for the Secretary of State office, once a recall reaches the ballot, it is up to the voters to determine its merit. However, the petitioner is liable for the statements made against the elected official.

“If an investigation finds that the chief petitioner made knowingly false statements on the reason for the recall, the chief petitioner would be held civilly or criminally liable, but it would not change the outcome of the recall election.”

Whether the recall effort leads to a vote remains to be seen, but for McLane, the experience is yet another chapter in his life as a state representative.

“Never a dull moment in politics,” he concluded.

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