After a week of heavy criticism, former state Rep. Kelley Wirth rescinded the pay raises she gave staff members following her drug charge...
CORVALLIS, Ore. — After a week of heavy criticism, former state Rep. Kelley Wirth rescinded the pay raises she gave staff members following her drug charge.
The action came a day after Wirth resigned from the Legislature.
“Even though I still believe my former staff deserved to be rewarded for their hard work, I must listen to all my former constituents and the Oregon taxpayers who gave the opportunity and honor to serve them in the first place,” Wirth said in a statement released Wednesday.
Records showed that Wirth has listed her mother, Kathleen Panknin, as an aide for more than two years. Wirth paid her mother $3,000 a month in September, $3,500 in mid-October and $6,500 in November.
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Two other Wirth aides got $250-a-week raises in November.
Wirth, 40, a Corvallis Democrat, announced her resignation from the Legislature on Oct. 14, a day after being cited for possession of what Salem police said was a small amount of methamphetamine found in her car.
Oregon legislators get $33,228 in taxpayer money to pay for office staff and supply expenses between legislative sessions. Legislators are allowed to pay their staff whatever they want as long as they don’t exceed their budget.
Fellow legislators and Wirth’s constituents urged her to take back the raises.
“It is the appropriate thing to have done, and I’m glad to hear about it,” said Rep. Jeff Merkley, D-Portland, who complained about the raises last week.
Wirth, who has two young daughters, was first elected in 2000. She went through a divorce in 2003 and missed many votes during that legislative session, a trend that continued in the 2005 session.
Wirth pleaded not guilty to the drug charge. She is recovering from injuries suffered when she was struck by a car driven by a woman who says Wirth was having an affair with her boyfriend — a janitor at the state Capitol. Wirth denies the affair. The driver, Lisa Temple, 23, was charged with attempted murder.