Vol 1 No. 14 February 3, 2005
The Matter With Senator Walker?
In part one, the rise of Senator Vicki Walker was chronicled, as
she became the Crusading Mother, with a disquieting history of responding to those who disagreed with her as enemies and by demonizing her opponents. When she locked horns with ex-Governor Neil Goldschmidt over SAIF, in January 2004, Walker had a new enemy. Tipped by a reporter for
The Portland Tribune because of the feud, Walker then turned over what she learned about Neil Goldschmidt's sexual relationship with his teenage babysitter 25 years earlier to Portland's
Willamette Week, and, as Goldschmidt was lynched by the press, Walker, safely anonymous, began a campaign of publicly voicing disgust and nausea about Goldschmidt in Oregon newspapers, as though she'd had nothing to do with the story. (Note: this report was written before Walker's recent crusade against the Salem-Keizer school district for not having done enough to turn in band teacher Joseph Billera, who pled guilty on December 27th to charges relating to his having had sex with four students.)
Portland Monthly, lauding Willamette Week, wrote: “Walker
had come upon evidence that Oregon’s most revered political hero was
guilty of a heinous crime: statutory rape. Over a three-year period in
the mid-1970s, while he was mayor of Portland, Goldschmidt had had
sexual relations with the family babysitter, a girl who was just 14
years old when he began having sex with her. ‘It made me sick to my
stomach,’ Walker says of the revelation. She herself had been
sexually abused as a child and knew of the debilitating, life-changing
and good, except that “statutory rape” is the legal term for
sexual intercourse between an adult and a legal minor when the
intercourse is voluntary on the part of the minor. In fact, today,
were the same “heinous” crime to take place, it would be legal in
several states, including -- by some sources -- Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa,
Missouri and North Carolina; certainly it was legal age in those
states (and others) at that time. Throughout the world, 14 is the age
of consent in countries from Schwarzenegger’s Austria to Italy, to
Iceland, Hungary, China, Portugal, Puerto Rico and Liechtenstein,
among many others. Indeed, in the original Oregon statutes adopted in
1865, 14 was the age of consent, raised to 16 in 1889. 16 is the age
of consent in the majority of US states, and according to the US
“statutory rape” term is a legal fiction, based on drawing an
arbitrary line at a point where a “child” becomes “adult”
enough to consent. There is a world of difference between “sexual
abuse” and consensual sex; and, in Walker’s case, between the
coerced sexual abuse of a five-year-old and a relationship which
continued for two to three years (from 14 to 17, by all accounts).
has not been in the interests of sensationalism, and the cheap prudery
of the press, but it is true, nonetheless. My own mother was married
at age 15, and many states allow 14-year-olds to marry with the
consent of their parents or guardians.
that, Walker’s behavior during the “secret” period of her
anonymity and her voluntary “outing” (on June 20, 2004) is
May 6, 2004, WW posted the story on its website.
Walker, not up for re-election, was already on the PR bus, as an
“outside” commentator. On May 8, she told the Statesman Journal:
Sen. Vicki Walker, D-Eugene, who tangled with fellow Democrat
Goldschmidt over his $1 million lobbying earnings from Salem-based
SAIF Corp., said she couldn’t sleep Thursday night after learning of
Goldschmidt’s admissions. It brought up mixed emotions. Walker said
she was sexually assaulted repeatedly by her father and two uncles,
starting at age 5. ‘As survivors, we always are on guard,’ Walker
said. Still, she saw some justice from Goldschmidt finally paying a
price for his actions, though he escaped criminal charges. ‘It is so
important for women like me, whose abusers have never been brought to
justice,’ Walker said.
is a particularly telling statement in light of the facts not known
then. Goldschmidt had paid, in the later civil case whose settlement
had provided the evidentiary link that broke the case open, $250,000
to the “girl” in question years later. Who was Walker bringing to
“justice”? Was Walker confusing her “enemy” Goldschmidt with
story continues: “She also was offended by his portrayal of events.
‘It’s not an affair,’ she said. ‘This was a child who
couldn’t make those decisions for herself. He had ultimate
How could Walker know this? And, more importantly, wasn’t it enough
that she had stage-managed the story? She carefully hid her own
actions, while screaming outrage.
Both the woman and her mother had done their level best to not cooperate with WW’s gleeful report. The feelings of the victim weren’t nearly as important as the brouhaha that WW could stir up. They crowed about the story, screeched at The Oregonian and continue to publish followups to this day. The mother had pointedly asked the paper not to publish the story. WW: “She did, however, say that Goldschmidt ‘is a man of integrity and he has done good things,’ adding, in a request not to publish the story, ‘I don't see what good comes of this.’” Evidently WW, Vicki Walker and The Portland Tribune did.
Vicki Walker was everywhere,
seemingly: in The Bend Bulletin on “sex abuse” on May 18:
“ ‘It's a
dirty little secret,’ said Oregon State Sen. Vicki Walker, D-Eugene,
who was sexually abused until she was 15 by her father — and said
she attempted suicide as a result.” And on May 20th again
in the Bulletin: “’Sex abuse doesn't happen in a vacuum,’ she
said. ‘And it's quite tragic that the victims end up being the ones
who suffer the most’ ... Many years later, Walker said events in her
life still trigger memories of her abuse. But her experience as a
victim and survivor doesn't rule her life. ‘I am who I am because of
what happened to me,’ the state senator said. ‘But that doesn't
matter, because I also am who I am today. I can show people it does
happen to others, that it's OK to talk about it and it's not OK that
complained loudly about Goldschmidt’s portrait in the Capitol (Statesman
Journal June 1) : “[Vicki
Walker] said she is especially sensitive about the issue because she
was sexually abused by her father and two uncles when she was a little
girl. ‘I have to look at that painting every single day when we’re
in session because it’s located right outside the Senate,’ the
Eugene Democrat said. ‘The only thing I can think of when I see it
is what he did to that child ... All of his political successes came
at the expense of a girl who was harmed,’ Walker said ... she
doesn’t want to rewrite history, only to give less prominence to
someone who disgraced his public office. ‘I
respect the fact that he was our governor,’ Walker said. ‘But he
became our governor based on a lie involving the rape and abuse of a
14-year-old girl and a cover-up of that crime.’
statutory rape and rape are far from the same thing. And the
“abuse” only seems to exist within Walker’s increasingly
vengeful mind. The relationship with Goldschmidt’s babysitter had
continued from ages 14 to 17, two years of which, according to WW,
would have been consensual under Oregon law: 16 and 17. During this
time the “victim” hadn’t been a “child.” Goldschmidt had
reportedly not run for re-election as Governor because of the
possibility of the story breaking. But the still-anonymous source
letter she wrote about this time ran in the R-G on May 25th:
“Former Gov. Neil
Goldschmidt's portrait provokes a visceral response from me and other
sexual abuse survivors. It should be moved to a location that is less
visible to the public eye. ... Goldschmidt's disgusting crime is now
on record; as such, his portrait should not be proudly on display.”
On June 20th, Walker “outed” herself in a WW article that garnered press coverage of her “sexual abuse victim” status from as far away as The Boston Globe and The Charlotte (NC) Observer. According to WW: “Over the past six weeks, Walker says, she has decided to come forward. ‘I don't like secrets, and I didn't want to be part of one,’ she says. ‘This story's about Neil Goldschmidt, it's not about me. I was just a conduit, and I couldn't look the other way.’”
But perhaps Walker couldn’t stand that the story was only about Goldschmidt and not about Walker. Indeed, one notes that nearly every one of her “anonymous” period quotes are far more about Walker than about Goldschmidt. She clearly identifies with the girl as “victim” (although dredging up this episode for the “victim” didn’t seem to cause Walker any insomnia) and repeatedly makes statements that indicate she personally was bringing Goldschmidt to “justice.”
In a July 1 story, Walker told
the R-G “`I really wanted to say something early on, and I wasn't
going to lie about it if a reporter ever asked,’ she said. `But gee
whiz, nobody asked.’ Walker said she asked to be identified because
she felt the emphasis had shifted away from the abuse and
Gee whiz. Is
Walker serious? She hadn’t said anything? She had been everywhere.
But no one said the secret word so the duck didn’t come down and no
one won the hundred bucks. There is much more: The October 9 PCC
women’s auto da fe on Goldschmidt (all-woman panel) (“SEN.
VICKI WALKER TO PARTICIPATE IN PANEL DISCUSSION ON OREGONIANS’
ATTITUDES TOWARD RAPE AND THE NEIL GOLDSCHMIDT CASE -- FIRST
COMMUNITY DISCUSSION TO ADDRESS THE CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE” -- Walker
Press Release), etc.
It can be safely asserted that no state senator in Oregon’s history has boasted so often or so publicly about having had sex with her father. “Boasted” -- in a perverse but precise way -- is the correct term. The American Heritage Dictionary, 4th edition defines “boast” as: “To glorify oneself in speech; talk in a self-admiring way.”
The first political instance occurred in the fall of 1993, when, as the Chair of the Democratic Party of Lane County, Vicki Walker responded to a heated exchange regarding fines against the treasurer with a statement that she was under great stress as a “victim of sexual abuse.” This statement was completely out of left field, had nothing to whatsoever to do with the matter at hand, and was, according to one witness, “completely inappropriate.” Several parties later felt that this was knowledge that they didn’t want to know.
Then the 1999 R-G interview on being a survivor of sexual abuse, and her attempts to commit suicide, including the attempted “overdosing” on LSD. And so on.
Then in hearings before the HOUSE COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY SUBCOMMITTEE ON CRIMINAL LAW, on March 27, 2001, the raw notes read: “TAPE 47, A 055; Rep. V. Walker comments about being a victim of incest.” Yes, “boast” is the correct term.
in an Op-Ed in the ever-compliant Portland Tribune, Walker
would write (July 6) “Clearly,
this [SAIF] is an agency that is out of control and intoxicated by its
own power, perhaps a consequence of Neil Goldschmidt’s
influence...” Clearly, to her, SAIF’s problems were a consequence
of (sexual abuser) Goldschmidt’s lobbying fees, rather than the fees
being a symptom of SAIF’s problems.
it seems apparent that Walker can no more separate Goldschmidt from
SAIF than she could separate her own childhood abuse from the
25-year-old consensual sexual relations between Goldschmidt and the
woman she had insisted on victimizing again.
had become Vicki Walker’s father, and he would continue to pay for
her father’s crimes, as would the woman who had dared to marry him,
Walker had done very nicely for herself: once again, the Crusader had
garnered national press attention. Once again, she was the sexual
abuse survivor bravely providing an example to women everywhere. She
had literally destroyed her “enemy” Neil Goldschmidt and walked
over his political corpse to rise in power. Who knows? She might even
be able to turn this episode into an extended stay in the Governor’s
mansion. There has already been talk.
September, Walker demanded that Governor Kulongosky remove Diana
Goldschmidt from the Oregon Investment Council for the perceived
conflict of interest that Goldschmidt was just cleared of by the
Attorney General. The Democratic Governor complied.
is rife with crusaders who nobly attacked in their conception of
“justice”: Comstock, Robespierre, McCarthy, Cromwell and
Torquemada, to name a few.
Which returns us to the present.
Vicki Walker demands that Diana Goldschmidt be squeaky clean. The Senator’s motives are beyond question, of course, and she snaps angrily at any questions about her motivation for destroying Neil Goldschmidt or about Liberty Mutual’s contributions to her political war chest.
Diana Goldschmidt says she doesn’t understand the animosity Walker holds for her and her husband. Senator Vicki Walker may not, either.
A member of the National Writers Union, AFLCIO, Hart Williams has been in print since 1973, and has written for THE WASHINGTON POST, THE KANSAS CITY STAR, THE SANTA FE SUN, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, THE OREGONIAN, THE LOS ANGELES FREE PRESS, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, THE LOS ANGELES HERALD-EXAMINER, NEW WEST MAGAZINE and many others.