(Reuters) – An Oregon state senator who was among Republican lawmakers who fled the Capitol last month to scuttle a vote on a bill to fight climate change faces a conduct hearing over remarks tinged with threats of violence about any efforts to force the senators to return.
Senator Brian Boquist, who is a former U.S. Army special forces officer, ahead of the Republicans’ departure said on June 19 to the state Senate’s Democratic president: “If you send the State Police to get me, hell is coming to visit you personally.”
Governor Kate Brown, a Democrat, enlisted the State Police on June 20 to try to bring Republicans back to the Capitol, but ultimately the Democratic-sponsored bill died. By fleeing the Capitol, the Republican senators prevented a vote from being held because, under Senate rules, there were not enough lawmakers present for legislation to be voted on.
The state Senate’s Special Committee on Conduct will hold a hearing on Monday over Boquist’s comments.
Boquist also told a reporter from a Portland television station that if police came looking for him, “Send bachelors and come heavily armed.”
The Senate Special Committee agenda for Monday calls for its two Democrats and two Republicans to consider a recommendation from an outside counsel that Boquist not be allowed to return to the “workplace” during an investigation.
The memorandum from the outside counsel, attorney Brenda Baumgart of the firm Stoel Rives LLP, cited the need to “ensure that the Capitol is free from threats of (or actual) violence and intimidation.”
The two Democratic senators on the committee could not be reached for comment.
Boquist did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Baumgart’s recommendation.
He told the Salem Reporter that he had made comments to State Police officials similar to his remarks to the television reporter, specifically that they should “send bachelors and come heavily armed.”
“And of course, they see this is purely political free speech and discussion, you know, within the politics and the realms,” Boquist told the Salem Reporter.
The Oregon climate change bill would have required the state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions below 45 percent of 1990 levels by 2035.
The approach would have capped the state’s total amount of greenhouse gases, forcing companies such as utilities to buy emission allowances.
Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; editing by Bill Tarrant and Leslie Adler