Porfily fined for state ethics violations
- Bill Sheehy
- Central Oregonian - News
Earlier this year, the Oregon Government Standards and Practices Commission brought what was termed a preliminary finding against former county Commissioner Frank Porfily. Last week the commission fined him $2,000 for for certain actions while a Crook County commissioner.
>Last March, the state commission found former County Commissioner Frank Porfily guilty of numerous ethics violations and announced his penalty late last week
The original complaint against Porfily was filed by the man who was elected to replace Porfily on the County Court, Commissioner Jerry Crafton. A short time later, in a flurry of acrimonious activity, Porfily, a member of the airport commission, wrote a letter asking for an investigation into possible irregularities of Commissioners Crafton and McCabe.
In the final GSPC order the charges were dismissed in the Crafton case. The only real issue, the final GSPC order stated, was with the procedural violation that "occurred based on the guidance of counsel."
The investigation into the complaint against McCabe took a little longer to decide but was finally dismissed by the ethics commission.
The complaint against Porfily was investigated and the decision was made that he had violated state law by voting to approve payment of $25,000 to the two companies he either owns or has a controlling interest in. The incidents involved 24 separate occasions and on each occasion, Porfily failed to publicly declare an actual conflict of interest.
GSPC investigators found that the list of violations against Porfily reportedly occurred between Jan. 1995 though Dec. 1998, when he was a county commissioner. The former commissioner could have faced fines totaling $48,000 or as much as $1,000 for each of 48 violations. In addition, the ethics commission could have made him forfeit twice the amount of actual financial gain. The final decision was to fine Porfily $2,000.
Porfily was not available for comment, but his attorney, Greg Lynch, said his client's conflict of interest was a "technical conflict. This protocol has been followed by the county court for decades without mention or conflict," Lynch explained. "When the votes in question were taken, all three members voted. And county legal counsel was sitting there and did not find fault. It was a just technical conflict of interest."
When the negotiations between Porfily's attorney and the GSPC's advisors, County Judge Scott Cooper, said he had been approached with the idea of having the county look at possibly paying a share of any fine that Porfily may face. When contacted this week, Cooper said quite adamantly, "No. Absolutely no. Individual elected officials are responsible for their own actions, so, no. I am convinced that this would not be what the people of Crook County would want us to do."