Democratic state senator and treasurer candidate Ben Westlund, under attack from Republicans over an 11-year-old "sex scandal," got help from an unlikely quarter: the conservative blog Oregon Catalyst.
Two years ago it came out that Westlund, then a freshman Republican state representative, had made unwelcome sexual advances in 1997 to Debbie Boone, at that time a legislative aide and now a Democratic state representative from Cannon Beach.
Boone said publicly at that time that Westlund's advances amounted to nothing more than an "unwanted hug." But last week somebody leaked a confidential memo Boone gave to the legislative leadership in 2006, and it revealed that Westlund had done a bit more than that.
"Is it fair to bring this up?" Oregon Catalyst asked. "No it is not, for three reasons. First of all, Westlund admitted his errors. Most politicians don't. Second, the victim, a fellow State Representative, has acknowledged that the issue is resolved and is good friends with Westlund. Third, bringing up such private controversial matters can have the unexpected result of throwing the victim a new set of problems. When sexual harassment charges get tossed around by outside parties it can lead to other women being afraid to pursue their complaints.
"A sense of confidentiality, privacy and the right to self-direction by the victim to pursue resolution that meets their personal values is important when looking at harassment cases."
Meanwhile, The Bulletin - which played the Westlund story at the top of Page One for three consecutive days - has an editorial ripping him in today's paper. If you want to read it you'll have to buy a copy - online access is by subscription only.