An Oregon state representative who appeared to call on his fellow Democrats to "exterminate" proposed firearm legislation was actually the victim of imposters who falsely attached his name to the emails, according to the state's computer experts.
Rep. Mark Meek — whose district includes Oregon City, Gladstone and other parts of northern Clackamas County — wrote in a follow-up message to lawmakers that the emails "originated from another source."
The second-term politician contacted the Information Services department of the Legislative Administration state agency, who investigated the emails and determined they were not sent using the official email accounts provided to all legislators.
In a statement to the Tribune, Meek added that Information Services also alerted Oregon State Police.
"Being a legislator requires us to engage in difficult debates about difficult subjects," Meek said. "In the course of those discussions, I believe that civility and honesty are essential. The use of deceptive and misleading tactics undermines the democratic process and contributes to people losing faith in government institutions."
Luke Eckley, an administrator for Information Services, says the emails were sent using Votility, a mass-email service designed for political campaigns.
While the emails appeared to show Meek's official email account in the address heading, they were actually sent by an external email service called Brightstonemedia, the IT investigation concluded.
"There are many other headers that verify the email didn't originate from the Legislature or Rep. Meek," Eckley wrote on Wednesday, Jan. 23.
Here's what the first email appeared to say:
"Oregon is facing very real crises. We expect the people we elect to work to address them and not squander time and money attempting to exterminate the rights of gun owners. The anti-gun bills introduced by Oregon Democrats are a disgrace. Let's stop attacking the rights of the law abiding and work on real problems."
Here's the follow-up email sent out by Meek on Tuesday, Jan. 22:
"You may have received emails from me regarding gun safety legislation. I'm writing to inform you that these messages were not sent by me or my office and seem to have originated from another source. I have contacted Information Services to let them know about this error and find out more information.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misstated who contacted the Oregon State Police.
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