Peggy Boquist said legislative officials created heated political environment that led to threats

BoquistPeggy Boquist, the wife and staff member of state Sen. Brian Boquist, has filed a complaint about workplace issues, indicating legislative leaders ignored death threats against her family.

She submitted the complaint as testimony to a Senate committee investigating her husband.

Boquist represents a portion of southern Hillsboro near Hilslboro High School, as well as a large rural area which includes Scholls, Laurel and Blooming as well as southern Cornelius and Hillsboro area.

The senator is under investigation for making threatening remarks about police after Gov. Kate Brown said she would dispatch troopers to round up Republican senators who had walked out of the legislative session, stopping Senate business for nine days.

Boquist cited the threats against her family and then asserted that Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, and legislative human services officials took no action. She doesn't detail in the letter what she reported about the threats to those offices.

Anna Braun, Courtney's chief of staff, said Wednesday that Courtney never received information on the threats.

The office of Legislative Counsel considered Boquist's statement and this week asked her for additional information to consider whether to proceed with a formal complaint.

In her letter, Boquist defended her husband's actions and said legislative and public reaction to them triggered the threats.

In her letter, Boquist said her family received death threats on her Capitol office phone, through email and regular mail. Some of the threats named her children, listed the Boquist's home address and made disparaging comments about the Boquists' late son.

"Threats to me, my children and even my cow, yes even my cow, was mentioned in a telephone message," she wrote.

She said she reported the threats to the Polk County Sheriff's Office and the Oregon State Police. The agencies confirmed the reports.

State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton said his agency considers intent and opportunity in assessing threats.

"We do have to vet out legitimate threats from vague or thinly-veiled threats," he said.

Potential charges against anyone making serious threats could include menacing or harassment.

In her letter, Boquist said she saw no action from Courtney and legislative personnel managers.

"Again he was silent," Boquist wrote. "He allowed the chaos and drama to continue and spiral into an international news story for his own political benefit."

During the walkout, Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, called the Republicans' actions "terrorism" — a comment that received swift rebuke by conservatives. Sen. James Manning then retweeted a news story with Burdick's quote, again calling the actions terrorism.

Boquist said those actions fueled the threats, and Courtney failed to take action to quell the "hyperbole."

Daron Hill, legislative administrator, said he had no reports of the threats until Boquist submitted her letter, though the employee services manager who would have better knowledge of any complaints is out of the office.

Boquist used the letter to defend her husband's comments and to complain they had been distorted by the press.

She said his remarks on the Senate floor in June responded to what she said was the threat of illegal arrest and detainment. She said press reports made it appear her husband was threatening to kill police officers.

"He never said shoot to kill, and often his entire comment was cropped into a four-word blast," she wrote. "His comment was an impassioned response to a very real threat of arrest, detainment, kidnapping and confinement, without a crime, or a judge's warrant; originating with the Senate president."

Aubrey Wieber is a reporter with Pamplin Media Group news partner, Salem Reporter. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-575-1251.

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