Ore. attorney general clears Portland mayor
No credible evidence Adams initiated relationship with minor
Published Thursday, 25-Jun-2009 in issue 1122
SALEM, Ore. (AP) – There’s no credible evidence that Portland’s openly gay mayor, Sam Adams, initiated a sexual relationship with a minor in 2005, the state attorney general said Monday in a report that may put to rest a scandal that’s shaken a city proud of its progressive ways.
The report by Attorney General John Kroger also had harsh words for the former teenager at the center of the drama – Beau Breedlove.
Pointing out that Breedlove posed for the erotic gay magazine Unzipped, and also saying Breedlove leaked details about his relationship with Adams, Kroger said Breedlove has benefited, “both in notoriety and financial gain.”
Attempts to reach Breedlove, a former legislative aide who turns 22 this week, were not immediately successful.
The sex scandal broke in January after Adams took office, when he admitted that during the election campaign last year he lied when he said he did not have sexual relations with Breedlove. In acknowledging the lie, Adams insisted he waited until Breedlove turned 18.
The controversy divided Portland’s gay community – some said he should resign, others that he should stay. It also was a lightning rod between the city’s conservatives and liberals.
“I made mistakes in my personal life that led to this investigation. As a result, the city I love was put through an ordeal,” Adams said in a statement. “I am gratified the investigation has been completed, and I want to reiterate that I am sorry.”
Kroger looked into whether Adams had sexual contact with Breedlove before he turned 18, which would have been a misdemeanor. Breedlove said he was 17 when he and Adams first kissed – but Kroger’s report concluded that Breedlove’s accounts lacked corroborative evidence.
It also stated that Breedlove lacked credibility because of past inconsistent statements and a prior felony conviction, as well as evidence he sought financial gain from the scandal.
“At times, a responsible prosecutor may seek to charge an individual with a crime based solely on the uncorroborated testimony of a single witness,” Kroger’s report said. “However, a responsible prosecutor will do so only when there are no serious questions about the credibility of the witness’s account.”
At a press conference on Monday, Kroger said the office was not making any judgment about Breedlove’s truthfulness or his “personal credibility.” Instead, he said, the report questioned “the credibility of his account” in terms of how it would hold up during a hearing.
“What the report does is assess the likely impeachment that would occur if Mr. Breedlove was called as a witness,” Kroger said. “It wouldn’t work in a court of law.”
Breedlove refused to answer certain questions – including how much money he’s made from publicity surrounding the scandal – and to provide certain witnesses.
The report also noted that Mayor Adams was slow in providing investigators access to certain phone memory cards and e-mail accounts.
Adams currently faces a recall effort on behalf of a group that claims he subverted the democratic process with deceptive campaigning and abused his power. The group claims the recall has nothing to do with Adams’ sexual orientation.
Jasun Wurster, one of the organizers of the recall effort, says it will continue despite Monday’s report.
“It’s about deliberately lying to get elected, orchestrating an elaborate cover up, which included lying to the press, and his abuse of power,” said Wurster, 34, who expects to get his degree in political science from Portland State University this summer.
Kroger also looked into whether Adams hired a reporter from the Portland Mercury for a position on his staff in an effort to cover up the relationship with Breedlove, but found no evidence to merit a criminal charge.
The report also considered accusations of misuse of government resources and theft by deception – which considered whether Adams asked for campaign contributions under false pretenses – but again found no evidence of a crime.