BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilor Nathan Boddie did not attend Wednesday night’s Council meeting, as fellow Councilors discussed whether to take action over alleged conduct that occurred before he was elected. He’s accused of inappropriately touching a woman at a bar in 2012. Councilor Sally Russell has called for his resignation, and she told KBND News, last week, she expected he would be censured - or publicly reprimanded - at the next meeting.
At the meeting, City Attorney Mary Winters outlined how the city's charter limits when Councilors can publicly censure one of their own. She says the rules relate to how questionable conduct could impact official duties. While Boddie's name was not mentioned during the discussion, it was obvious he was the focus. Mayor Casey Roats tried to clarify, asking, "So, an event that took place before someone was an elected official, that was brought to light well after that fact of having been an elected official - based on our current rules, would not warrant a censure from a Council." Winters replied, "That’s correct. It isn’t necessarily so much the timing – if it happened three years ago, but it was still something you thought rose to a pretty bad level in how that person was making decisions or treating this body, it could be potentially something."
Earlier this month, a local environmental activist said she was talking with Boddie in a bar in 2012, when he groped her. He reportedly responded to the allegation by claiming she had a substance abuse problem. In June, a Democratic political action committee based in Portland said Boddie had used inappropriate language.
At Wednesday's meeting, during the public comment period, Justin Gottlieb spoke in support of Boddie, saying the Councilor is the only one who has cared about his situation, "It’s a distraction that’s being perpetrated by liberal powers in the Valley. I would urge everyone to look deeper. This is a witch hunt and there’s something wrong with it." Local attorney Aaron Jeffers said he spoke for many in his industry when he called for Boddie to step down, "It’s our belief that he should immediately resign, not only from this Council but from the race for a seat to represent this community at the state level. You may not be able to censure him; I can." Jeffers says there is a community-wide effort to push Boddie out, including a petition.
Councilor Bruce Abernethy also did not attend Wednesday's meeting; he's listed as "excused" on the official roll call, while Boddie is noted as "absent."