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Gun rights backers launch recall of legislators

Sen. Riley, Rep. McLain targeted for supporting SB 941


In the wake of the Oregon Senate’s passage of Senate Bill 941, two local legislators have become the target of a recall effort by supporters of gun rights.

State Sen. Chuck Riley (D-Hillsboro) and state Rep. Susan McLain (D-Forest Grove) are among the sponsors of SB 941, which “requires private person to complete transfer of firearm by appearing with transferee before gun dealer to request criminal background check or shipping or delivering firearm to gun dealer in certain circumstances.”

Approved by the Oregon Senate April 14 by a 17-13 vote, the bill is now before the House Committee on Rules, with a hearing planned for today, April 22.

Norm Voshall, spokesman for Recall Chuck Riley, said Riley and McLain are being targeted because they are not effectively representing their districts.McLain

“We want to see the interests of the citizens of Washington County and all of Oregon better represented,” Voshall said. “During the 2014 election, both [then incumbent] Sen. (Bruce) Starr and Sen. Riley received large donations from special interest groups. Unfortunately, 72 percent of Sen. Riley’s trackable donations were from out of state or special interest groups. Both Sen. Riley and Rep. McLain have consistently voted against residents in their districts on a number of key issues.”

To get recall measures on the ballot, approximately 6,300 valid signatures of voters within Riley’s legislative district — Senate District 15, which includes Hillsboro, Forest Grove, Cornelius and North Plains — would be needed.

About 2,800 valid signatures would be needed to qualify a recall measure for McLain’s district, House District 29, which includes Hillsboro, Forest Grove and Cornelius.

The organization behind the recall will have 90 days to collect the necessary number of signatures.

Voshall said the response to the recall drive has been “very positive.”

“We are receiving great support from everyone we’ve talked to,” Voshall explained. “On day one, we got over 150 requests to volunteer.”

Riley said he does not know the people behind the recall drive, adding that the campaign took him by surprise.

“It was unexpected, because I thought recalls were for not doing what you promised,” Riley said.

In the wake of recall bid’s launch, Riley issued a formal statement about his positon on gun legislation.

“I proudly cast a ‘Yes’ vote on SB 941 to close the loophole that allows felons, domestic abusers and people with severe mental illness to get access to a gun,” read an excerpt of Riley’s statement. “Common sense gun safety was a key issue in my campaign, and I’m delivering on my promises to the voters. Extreme right-wing groups may not like the fact that I won, but I am doing exactly what I said I would do. I respect the right of citizens to exercise their beliefs in the democratic process. I am also confident that the vast majority of people in my district support gun safety, and that my vote for SB 941 is democracy in action.”Riley

Voshall took issue with Riley’s categorization of his organization.

“I was disheartened to see Sen. Riley’s office immediately label our campaign as ‘extreme right-wing groups,’” Voshall said. “If Sen. Riley would like to sit down and have constructive dialogue with his constituents, we would love to meet him.”

McLain also issued a statement in response to the recall effort.

“Unfortunately, a fringe group has started a recall effort against me over my support of a bill that will close the background checks loophole for private gun sales,” McLain’s statement read. “I believe this bill will save lives by ensuring that this gaping loophole isn’t used to put guns into the hands of criminals, domestic abusers and people with severe mental illness. I fully support the Second Amendment, and I believe this is a common sense policy that will make our community safer while still protecting the rights of gun owners.”

Mickie Kawai, election division manager in the Washington County Elections Office, said recall drives are unusual in the county.

“I don’t think we’ve had a legislative recall in my time here — over 25 years,” Kawai said.

The Oregon Secretary of State’s office handles the recall process, but Kawai said she will be keeping a close eye on developments.

According to Voshall, Recall Chuck Riley is planning “Sign & Drive” events in the coming weeks, but the dates are not yet finalized.

“People can stay aware of signature opportunities at our Facebook page, facebook.com/recallriley, and our website, recallchuckriley.com,” Voshall said. “Our website will have an electronic petition form people can print out at home and mail in to us as soon as the Secretary of State’s office approves the template.”

Voshall said he expects approval of the petition template to come sometime this week.

With the recall process now under way, Riley said he intends to continue focusing on doing his job representing the district in the Oregon Legislature.

“It is a distraction, and you have to take it seriously,” he said Monday. “We’ll just have to wait and see how it plays out.”

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