Oregon ethics commission dismisses complaint against lobbyist who led failed Holvey recall

State Rep. Paul Holvey, D-Eugene, successfully defeated an Oct. 3 recall election over alleged anti-labor stances.
State Rep. Paul Holvey, D-Eugene, successfully defeated an Oct. 3 recall election over alleged anti-labor stances.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The Oregon Ethics Commission voted unanimously to dismiss the ethics complaint against Michael Selvaggio, the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 lobbyist who led the failed recall campaign against Democratic State Rep. Paul Holvey.

Holvey, of Eugene, accused Selvaggio of violating state law by filing the recall while House Bill 3183, a priority bill for UFCW that Holvey opposed, was in the House Rules Committee. It is illegal for a lobbyist to influence a legislator's vote by funding or threatening to fund opposition.

OGEC on Friday ruled Selvaggio had not violated this law because he had sufficiently shown the recall was about other complaints in addition to HB 3183, and because he had initiated the recall without telling Holvey and had never offered to withdraw it in exchange for support from him.

"There does not appear to be any specific allegation or evidence that Mr. Selvaggio ever threatened … a recall election against Rep. Holvey unless Holvey supported HB 3183," OGEC investigator Hillary Murrieta said. "Similarly, there is no specific allegation or evidence to suggest that Mr. Selvaggio ever offered to stop the recall petition in exchange for Holvey agreeing to support the bill."

Selvaggio said this is the outcome he predicted.

"This was a very expected outcome for anybody that knows the law," Selvaggio told The Register-Guard. "It's disappointing to see that a state legislator would use the ethics commission to attempt to hassle his political opponent."

Murrieta told OGEC commissioners there was “a lack of any additional information provided by Rep. Holvey after commission staff attempted to follow up," a detail Selvaggio and his lawyer said showed his innocence.

Holvey did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Register-Guard, but his aid Robert Unger said OGEC staff "have been in contact with us and Rep. Holvey just talked to them this week."

Alan Torres covers local government for the Register-Guard. He can be reached over email at atorres@registerguard.com or on twitter @alanfryetorres

This article originally appeared on Register-Guard: Ethics commission dismisses complaint against Holvey recall leader