- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 9, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Oregon’s top elections officer was facing two investigations into inappropriate comments about female employees before his abrupt resignation last month, according to state records.

Documents obtained by The Oregonian (https://bit.ly/2bbCZta ) through a public records request show that the latest investigation was completed just a week before the Secretary of State’s office announced the resignation of Elections Division Director Jim Williams on July 20.

The more recent case involves a temporary employee who complained that she was fired early because she declined an invitation to get drinks with Williams. The employee said Williams also regularly used a derogatory term to describe other female employees.

An Oregon Department of Justice report supported the employee’s account of Williams’s behavior but found no evidence that the employee’s dismissal was tied to the allegations.

The Secretary of State’s human resources staff had investigated Williams months earlier, when a different female employee complained about his response to her problems getting along with people who do business with the agency. The employee said Williams told her it was because she was younger and prettier, according to a Department of Justice report.

Deputy Secretary of State Robert Taylor apparently counseled Williams and the employee about how to improve their working relationship.

Williams could not be reached for comment Monday. In a July 3 email to staff at the Secretary of State’s office, he denied inviting the temporary employee out for drinks, along with other allegations.

But Williams texted Taylor by July 18 and offered to resign. Taylor ultimately said that Williams would be fired if he did not resign.

Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins said Monday that the investigations weren’t related to state elections.

“As the records demonstrate, the resignation of Mr. Williams did not arise out of actions or omissions that had any impact on the elections process or other program responsibilities of the Elections Division,” she said.

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Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive, https://www.oregonlive.com

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