JANUARY 22, 2009
The recently elected mayor of Oregon’s most populous city is under investigation for having a romantic affair with a teenage boy and repeatedly lying about it to cover it up.
Oregon’s attorney general has launched a probe into the scandal surrounding Portland’s openly gay mayor, Democrat Sam Adams, and the sexual relationship he had with a teenage legislative intern a few years ago when he served on the Portland City Council.
The 45-year-old mayor, who took office on New Year’s Day, admits he lied about the affair—and asked the teen to lie—during his campaign because voters wouldn’t believe that his young lover had turned 18 before they started having sex. The mayor’s admission and apology to constituents was posted on the city’s web site this week.
The boy was 17 years old when Adams met him in 2005, but the mayor assures that the relationship didn’t get romantic until the boy was of legal age. The suspicious story led the county prosecutor, several Portland city commissioners and the city’s police chief to demand that the state attorney general conduct an investigation.
Three area newspapers and the city police union have called for Adams to resign, which is the only way to immediately get rid of him since state law bars mayoral recalls until after six months. Adams refuses to quit, claiming that he simply committed “an error in judgment” that should not hurt his two decades of public service and good judgment.
One Oregon newspaper editorial rejects that idea as too simplistic, pointing out that Portlanders are left with a mayor whose election was built on a lie. Another editorial says that Portland residents once again find themselves deeply disappointed by the inappropriate and dishonest actions of a local leader—actions that ought to lead to immediate resignation.
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