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Buehler, Oregon Democrats' chair call on Kruse to resign

Formal complaint demands expulsion

SALEM, Ore. - State Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, called Thursday on state Sen. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, to resign immediately amid sexual harassment allegations, hours after the chair of the Oregon Democratic Party did the same.

Buehler, who is seeking the GOP nomination for governor, released the following statement:

 “The recent allegations of sexual harassment, misconduct and inappropriate behavior in the Oregon Capitol have elevated important conversations about workplace conduct, the role that power plays in relationships between men and women and the importance of validating women who come forward to share their stories of abuse and humiliation. What's clear is that for too long casual attitudes and unprofessional behavior has been accepted in the Capitol. This unfortunate culture knows no party affiliation and exists whether you're an elected official, staff, or lobbyist. This is a moment for change.

 "I believe the multiple allegations against Sen. Kruse and I respect the courage of those who have come forward.  The behavior of Sen. Kruse has no place in civil society or the workplace. This is especially true for someone who holds the people's trust and should set a higher standard of behavior. Throughout this process, Sen. Kruse has lost the personal credibility and ability to effectively serve the people of Oregon. That’s why today I called Sen. Kruse and urged him to do the right thing and immediately resign. And finally, I would also encourage the Senate President and Speaker of the House to not only work to improve the process and approach for addressing allegations of unacceptable behavior but, as important, aggressively work to change and improve the workplace culture that, regrettably, exists in our Capitol.”

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In response to mounting evidence of sexual harassment against Senator Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg), the chair of the Democratic Party of Oregon, Jeanne Atkins, released the following statement this morning: 

"As news coverage continues to build across the nation and our state revealing the pervasive harassment and physical assaults against women in every sort of workplace, I call on Oregon State Senator Jeff Kruse to resign today.

"Enough is enough. 

"As more facts emerge and accusations surface, we now know his history of behavior is egregious.  There must be consequences -- not just never-ending investigations and warnings -- for a sitting Oregon senator with this record. 

"I commend Senator Sara Gelser and others for coming forward to tell their stories. I have no doubt that they speak for countless other women in the Oregon Capitol and workplaces across our nation. 

"To be clear, this is not a uniquely political or partisan issue. We are all responsible for a culture that too often turns a blind eye against systemic sexual harassment and discrimination. 

"I hope that this flood of stories from women and men alike who have experienced harassment in Oregon serves as a wake up call. In particular, I call on perpetrators to wake up to the fact that their behavior will no longer be tolerated. The immediate resignation of Senator Kruse would demonstrate that the message has been heard."

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Earlier story:

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - An Oregon state senator has filed a formal complaint against a male senator over allegations of sexual harassment and is demanding his expulsion from the Oregon Senate.

In a complaint filed Wednesday, Sen. Sara Gelser says Sen. Jeff Kruse touched her breasts, put his hand on her thigh, kissed her cheek and whispered in her ear so closely that he left her ear wet.

The Corvallis Democrat says at least 15 other women have come forward about the Roseburg Republican.

Gelser posted on Twitter last month that she had been the subject of Kruse's unwanted advances.

Senate President Peter Courtney has removed Kruse from his committee assignments and now says he will appoint an independent investigator.

Kruse has denied any impropriety. He didn't return a phone message left Wednesday.

Secretary of State Dennis Richardson issued this statement:

A formal complaint was recently filed against Oregon Senator Jeff Kruse regarding multiple accounts of sexual misconduct in the Oregon State Capitol. The allegations are extensive and disturbing. 

Last month, I shared my support for victims of harassment and abuse—that no one should ever be made to feel unsafe or in danger in their place of work, nor should they ever fear retaliation if someone comes forward to report their abuser. 

I also ordered a review of our current policies to combat sexual misconduct, and my office is working on updated training programs for employees who serve in the Secretary of State’s office. 

Sexual harassment has no place in Oregon. These are serious allegations being brought against Senator Kruse that deserve a full investigation. If due process finds them to be true, Senator Kruse should resign.


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