This was published in the Republican Governors Association newsletter, July 8 2022.
What happens when you rear-end a driver stopped at a red light and cause “lasting health problems”? If you’re Betsy Johnson, you avoid taking responsibility by trying to claim legislative immunity. That’s what happens.
According to the Willamette Week, in 2013, Johnson crashed into another vehicle. When the victim filed a lawsuit against Johnson, the then-state legislator tried to pass the costs off to Oregon taxpayers. Yes, you read that right.
In response, Johnson’s attorneys claimed she should be shielded by the concept of legislative immunity. That is, they argued she was shielded from even being served with a lawsuit during the legislative session.
That’s not all: Johnson’s attorneys also argued that if anybody owed Gallentine compensation, it was the state of Oregon because, while the accident took place just 7 miles from her home, Johnson was driving to work at the Capitol on April 22, 2013.
“At the time of the accident, defendant was in the performance of duty and/or acting within the course and scope of her public employment as an Oregon state legislator,” Johnson’s attorneys wrote.
WW requested an interview with Johnson on July 1. Her campaign declined and instead issued a statement:
“My lawyers used every tool they could to minimize what they considered an excessive claim, including laws that apply to legislators while conducting state business, which I was,” Johnson said in the statement.
“I was thinking about a bill I was on my way to introduce, and I didn’t notice that the intersection light had just changed…
So….the taxpayers should have had to pay Johnson’s car crash victim because she was “thinking about a bill” when the accident occurred. Do we have that right? If she becomes governor, what else will Johnson try to pass onto the people of Oregon?
Oregon families deserve a governor who fights for them – not against them.