Oregon Legislators And The PERS Masquerade

To masquerade is to pretend that you are something that you are not.  From 1971 through 2009, most Oregon legislators  have been engaged in a PERS masquerade.  1971 was the year that Oregon Attorney General withdrew a 1963 opinion and ruled for the first time that legislators could join PERS.  After that ruling, the majority of the legislators did join PERS and ever since they have been pretending to represent the people of Oregon when making PERS laws.  But that has been a masquerade.  They have been representing their own personal interest at the expense of the people of Oregon.

The PERS legislators were able to continue their masquerade until 2009.  That way, the people of Oregon did not know that when the legislators were making PERS laws, most of them were  acting for their own personal financial interest and not the interest of the people they were elected to represent.

The secrecy of the legislators’ PERS membership status was based on two separate laws.  One law applied to all elected officials, including legislators.  That law said that legislators could elect to join PERS but they did not have to join.  As a result of that law, you could not know if a legislator was a PERS member or not.  The other law, passed in 1983, stated that employee and retiree address, telephone number and other nonfinancial membership records maintained by the Public Employees’ Retirement System pursuant to the PERS laws was exempt from public disclosure.    Until October 2009, PERS interpreted that law to include PERS membership status.

As a result of those two laws, the people of Oregon did not know whether their legislators were PERS members.  But we now know that most of them were.  In 1979, 55 of the 90 legislators were PERS members.  By 1983, that number had climbed to 84 out of the 90 legislators being in PERS.  In 1989, 82 of the 90 were PERS members. The reason we know that is that in 2009, after PERS had refused to give me the PERS status of former Governor Goldschmidt, I appealed to the Oregon Attorney General.  The Attorney General ruled in my favor, finding that PERS membership status was subject to public disclosure.  Thereafter, I was able to obtain from PERS which legislators were PERS members in any given year.

Then, in 2010, I sent an e-mail to each one of the 90 Oregon legislators, asking them if they were PERS members.  Only 10 voluntarily provide that information to me.  It was not until after I filed a public records lawsuit against the Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney, that the remaining 80 legislators  gave that information to me.  It turned out that 59 of the 90 legislators were PERS members in 2010.

As a result of the ability of the people of Oregon to discover the PERS status of legislators, the PERS masquerade is over.  PERS status of legislators is being openly discussed and some legislative candidates have pledged that if elected to the legislature, they will not join PERS.  PERS members have never made up more than 8.5% of Oregon’s population but through secrecy, they were able to take total control of Oregon’s government and they  used that control to protect and enhance their own financial interest.

The PERS status of legislators and legislative candidates is important information as Oregon’s history clearly shows that PERS legislators will favor their own financial welfare over the welfare of everything else.   If you are uncertain as to whether the people who are running to represent you in Salem are PERS members, ask them and also ask them that, if elected, will they join PERS.  Then use that information to help you decide who to vote for.  The truth will set us free.

 

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About Dan Re

I am an attorney who has lived in Bend and practiced law since 1981. In educating myself about the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System (PERS), I was shocked at how the PERS laws were changed by the legislature, once legislators were allowed to join PERS in 1971, 26 years after PERS was first created. Those changes personally benefitted the legislators who made them at the direct financial expense of the people they were elected to represent. That is wrong and I intend to change it. In 2009, I started a non-profit 501(c)(4) corporation, In RE The People, Inc., for the purpose of informing concerned citizens of what happened regarding PERS and other issues of social and civic importance. I then created this blog to further that objective.
This entry was posted in Kate Brown, Oregon legislators, Oregon legislature, Oregon PERS, public employees retirement plan and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Oregon Legislators And The PERS Masquerade

  1. Joseph L. Parker says:

    PERhaps there is some issue other than PERS more relevant to the disaster known as the Oregon Economy that the conservatives might attend to for the good of the State…rather than obsessively seeking to discredit and destroy public employees and their pensions.
    Signed,
    A self made LIBERTARIAN entrepreneur who has spent his energies on becoming successful in business…I did build it myself.

    • Dan Re says:

      Mr. Parker, Thank you for your comment. I do not believe that the posts on this website have ever sought to discredit and destroy public employees and their pensions. Rather, the posts have made the point that the currnet PERS laws have been made by legislators who are PERS members and judges who are PERS members. The people of Oregon who have to pay for PERS retirement benefits have been excluded from any meaningful participation in the process of determining what they will have to pay.

      That, Sir, is the problem that I have been obsessively attacking and will continue to attack until the situation is corrected.

      Dan Re

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