The State Elections Division closed its investigation Thursday into whether new Councilor Casey Roats
ran afoul of election law in his voter registration and candidacy filings after finding insufficient evidence of a violation.
The investigation was sparked by a complaint filed by local activist Michael Funke
alleging that Roats knowingly provided false address information on election-related forms. Such an act is a potential felony under Oregon law, which states in ORS 260.715(1) that "[a] person may not knowingly make a false statement, oath or affidavit when a statement, oath or affidavit is required under the election laws."
The key word here is "knowingly." Though Roats readily admitted he did not physically reside at the addresses he provided — his Roats Water System office and the property on which he was building his new home — the state did not find sufficient evidence to show that he knowingly provided false information.
The state's decision letter, from Investigations and Legal Specialist Alana Cox, lays out the rationale:
In response to my letter of inquiry, you indicated your basis for claiming 61200 Brookswood Blvd. as your address on your candidacy filing in June, 2014, and for claiming 61147 Hamilton Lane as your voting address in November, 2013. You explained that you used the Hamilton Lane address, which is the address for a business, because that was the easiest place to locate you while you were living with your parents and building a new home. You explained that you used the Brookswood Blvd. address on your candidacy filing because you intended it to be your permanent address as soon as it was habitable.
You have explained that you did not submit the addresses knowing them to be false. Instead, you believed they were acceptable based on your situation. In the future, should you have any questions about matters relating to election law, I encourage you to contact your county clerk or our office for guidance.
After a review of the information submitted the Elections Division has found insufficient evidence to indicate you violated ORS 260.715(1) in this instance.
The complaint was filed as Roats was coming under heavy scrutiny for the fact that he lived outside the city for most of the year prior to his election to Council
. The Bend City Charter requires candidates to have resided within the City limits for the 12 months before their election. However, the Charter gives City Council final authority on qualification questions, and Council ruled 5-2 in a special meeting that Roats met the Charter's residency requirement.