Boquist must apologize for threatening the state police troopers who protect him and others in the Senate
State Sen. Brian Boquist on Thursday threatened violence against Oregon State Police troopers, the people who keep violence out of the state capitol.
First, Boquist must apologize to the state police for his panicky, half-cocked comment. Second, Senate Republican Leader Herman Baertschiger needs to announce what measures he'll take to censure Boquist. And third, until such time as he apologizes, Boquist needs to be removed from all committees. That's at a minimum.
Here's the background: The Democrats have so-called super majorities in both chambers and the governorship. That means they have passed a number of bills this session that Republicans don't like.
In May, Senate Republicans walked out of doing their job to protest the Student Success Act, which pumped an additional $1 billion per year into public K-12 schools. It worked and Democrats made painful concessions to get them back.
Now, in the final days of the 2019 session, the Democrats are poised to pass a carbon-reduction bill, a form of "cap-and-trade," that is opposed by Republicans and many in the business community. So on Wednesday, Republicans threatened to walk out again.
If there are too few senators in the Senate chamber, Senate President Peter Courtney cannot conduct the people's business. The walkout is a strategy to gain concessions from the party in power.
As has happened in the past, the governor can order state police to round up legislators and get them back in the chamber for a vote. Overly dramatic? Sure. But not without precedent.
Except this time, Boquist (R-Dallas), whose District 12 includes Dundee and much of western Yamhill County, threatened violence against police and, indirectly, against Courtney, as reported by Oregon Public Broadcasting and capitol reporters.
In an interview with OPB, Boquist said that if state troopers come for him, they "should be armed."
He also said, of Courtney, "And you send the state police to get me? Hell's coming to visit you personally."
Hey, Sen. Boquist, first: calm down. This is legislation we're talking about. These are well-known tactics for getting to a "yes" or "no" vote. You're no newcomer. You've served two terms in the House and three in the Senate. Your threat of violence against police is so far beyond the pale that it requires an immediate apology. And you know it.
Take a moment. Breathe. Stop panicking. And apologize.
Second, you enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 17 and you've led soldiers into hostile territory on foreign soil. You, more than anyone, know how rank and reprehensible it is to threaten violence against police.
We've praised your guts as a lawmaker on issues ranging from public health to sensible bills to curb illegal gun violence. The word "maverick" gets bandied about too much, but you've earned that in the past.
But in this case, you've gone way, way too far and you know it.
Consider, too, that on the Student Success Act, the Portland Business Alliance dared to be neutral and you threatened to have CEO Sandra McDonough arrested for that, should she choose to testify before your committee! Really, sir? You'd have her arrested by state police for taking a neutral stance on an issue, but then you threaten violence against those police?
Many of us have worked in the state capitol. People come there with strong emotions; people who win and lose on issues that care about deeply. And through all that, the state police maintain order in the building. In 2005, a man armed with a knife stormed into the Senate chamber. State police handled that situation, no one was hurt, and it all ended well.
Sen. Boquist, these are the very cops you just threatened.
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