- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 25, 2017

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - The Oregon Government Ethics Commission has issued an advisory opinion allowing a recently retired state lawmaker to lobby the Legislature.

A 2007 law prohibits legislators from lobbying for one regular session after they leave office. It’s intended to shut the revolving door between the Legislature and the lobbying industry.

But the commission says an exception applies when the lawmaker becomes an employee of a public agency and lobbies on behalf of it.

The opinion first reported by The Register-Guard (https://is.gd/7nwpfl ) applies to Peter Buckley, a former state representative from Ashland who has become a part-time budget adviser for Gov. Kate Brown.

Brown’s office initially said the job might involve lobbying the Legislature. Brown spokesman Chris Pair now says Buckley will register as a lobbyist, but the governor doesn’t expect him to lobby during the current legislative session.

Buckley left the state Legislature in January.

The commission’s 7-0 ruling goes against a March legal opinion from the Legislature’s lead attorney, Dexter Johnson. Johnson wrote that he believed that Buckley would be subject to the mandatory waiting period before he could lobby his former colleagues.

In his opinion, Johnson relied on the legal definition of “lobbyist” in Oregon, which specifically includes “any public official who lobbies.”

Ron Bersin, the Ethics Commission’s executive director, acknowledged during Friday’s meeting that the commission might take a little flak for the ruling, The Register-Guard reported.

Bersin, however, noted that 90 members of the Legislature are in Salem right now.

“If they would like to prohibit this type of movement they have all the power to do that,” he said.

The nine-member ethics commission is a volunteer board appointed by legislative leaders from both parties and the governor.

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Information from: The Register-Guard, https://www.registerguard.com

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