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Vol 1 No. 14                       February 3, 2005 

  What’s The Matter With Senator Walker?
report by Hart Williams

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.)


The 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 consequences.”

Well 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 military.

The “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).

This 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.

Given that, Walker’s behavior during the “secret” period of her anonymity and her voluntary “outing” (on June 20, 2004) is telling.

On May 6, 2004, WW posted the story on its website.

Vicki Walker, not up for re-election, was already on the PR bus, as an “outside” commentator. On May 8, she told the Statesman Journal: “State 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.

This 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 her father?

The 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 control.’

“Child”? 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 it happened.’”

She 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.’

But 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 Walker continued.

A 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 Goldschmidt's victim.”

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.

This summer, 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.

Increasingly, 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.

Goldschmidt 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, Diana Goldschmidt.

Still, 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.

In 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.

History 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.