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Vol 1 No. 13                       January 27, 2005
Vol 1 No. 14                       February 3, 2005 

Appeared in the final two issues of the newspaper. See Wikipedia.

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

This week, Diana Goldschmidt was cleared of wrongdoing. On August 27, 2004 The Portland Tribune had reported “[Diana] Goldschmidt said she does not understand the grudge that state Sen. Vicki Walker, D-Eugene, has against her and her husband, former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt. But she said she welcomed a state investigation into her actions on the Oregon Investment Council. ‘I’ve never met this woman,’ she said of Walker, who also opposed her husband’s confirmation to the state Board of Higher Education.”

This week, The Eugene Register-Guard reported, on January 22nd: “Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers said Friday an investigation turned up no wrongdoing by former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt’s wife, Diana, in an investment of public funds in a Texas buyout group in 2003 ... ‘Based on our investigation, Diana Goldschmidt became aware of her husband’s potential involvement with Texas Pacific hours after the Oregon Investment Council meeting,’ attorney general spokesman Kevin Neely said. Further, he said the investigation also turned up no impropriety by Neil Goldschmidt, Texas Pacific officials or any employee of the Oregon state treasurer’s office in connection with the case.”

But that wasn’t enough for Senator Vicki. “Walker said she wanted to determine whether Goldschmidt publicly disclosed her conflict of interest at that time, as state ethics law requires, or simply declined to vote. ‘It’s a very small problem, but it is a problem nonetheless,’ Walker said. Walker also said she intended to draw up legislation....”


Perhaps it was something more than “a small problem.”

Considering that Walker had just spent much of 2004 trying to make sure that former Portland Mayor, former Oregon Governor and former US Secretary of Transportation Neil Goldschmidt was virtually erased from Oregon society, this nitpicking only seemed to confirm that Walker’s “feud” with Goldschmidt had turned into something else entirely: far beyond the R-G’s euphemistic characterization that Walker was “one of the Goldschmidts’ most outspoken critics.”

To understand it, we have to review Walker’s legislative career.

Walker has a legislative record as a “crusader.” It began with a senior class trip to Mexico that her daughter took in 1998. Walker, who happened to be running for the Oregon House for the first time, became the crusading mother, appalled at a wet t-shirt competition. According to The Oregonian, “I told the company, ‘You messed with the wrong mom. I personally know my congressman and I personally know my U.S. senator, and you guys are toast.’”

The Medford Mail Tribune News reported “Vicki Walker, a Eugene court reporter, sparked an investigation of charter carrier Falcon Air and the travel company, Student Tours, after her 18-year-old daughter, Sara, called from Mexico with tales of a trip focused on drinking and sex.”

She told The Arizona Daily Wildcat “I don’t think there is any redeeming social value here with this company,” Walker said. “I would be hard pressed to be convinced they could clean it up ... I don’t like businesses that take advantage of folks, especially repeatedly.” This was the first hint of the ruthlessness with which Walker would treat perceived foes.

Walker, the newly-elected legislator (helped, perhaps, by the publicity of her “crusade” against senior class trips to Mexico) pushed a bill through the 1999 legislative session and got her first taste of national media attention, thanked publicly by Jodie Bernstein, Director of the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection on August 3, 1999. Her newly-found role of crusading mother and legislator was getting plenty of positive attention.

Shortly after taking office, Representative Walker gave an interview to the R-G, talking about her history as an incest and sexual abuse survivor beginning at age 5, and of attempting suicide at 17, once by attempting to “overdose” on LSD. While her pharmacological illiteracy was ignored, Walker became a crusader against teen suicide, introducing more legislation. Of course, teen suicide would be a difficult thing to be in favor of, and Walker continues her “crusade.”

A couple of years later, she became a crusader against unsafe child cribs: “HB 3962 seeks to reduce those tragic numbers by prohibiting the remanufacture, retrofitting, sale or lease of an unsafe crib. Rep. Vicki Walker (D-Eugene) introduced the bill after being contacted by Lane County resident Andrea Brandt-Amor, whose infant son Rasheed died in an unsafe crib accident while in daycare.” (Oregon Representative Carolyn Tomei’s News from Salem: May 14 - 18, 2001)

The crusading mom had struck again: “Many parents or caregivers may not be aware that cribs can be dangerous. This law is meant to protect our most vulnerable citizens by getting hazardous older cribs out of circulation.”

In 2000, running for re-election against former Eugene Mayor Jeff Miller, she told The Eugene Weekly: “My opponent talks like a Democrat, but he’s a Republican,” says Walker ... “When he gets to Salem they’re going to tell him what to think ... My opponent is not going to be the messiah for the Republican Party.” Miller was the enemy. And she was going to whip him, which, after a nail-biter, she did. In 2002, Vicki Walker, the crusading politician and angry mother moved up to the Senate, accepting, in the process, a large contribution from Liberty Northwest. 

Another cause she took up was banning wired glass, when another constituent’s son was injured in a gymnasium accident. Her response was, again, to introduce legislation, as a disquieting trend began to emerge: whatever she was crusading against was not a problem. It was an enemy. “I am appalled beyond belief that the wired glass industry has taken control of this issue and apparently intimidated and harassed individuals to the point that committee members are unable to vote their conscience for fear of reprisals,” stated her official campaign website. And this: “I am not surprised the wired glass manufacturers plan on filing some complaint objecting to the vote; it would be out of character if they did not. They have continuously shown a total disregard for the health and safety of the citizens of this country and abroad ... .”

Again 2003, according to John M. Puskas, M.D., of the Alliance For Hippocratic Principles: “Last year Rep. Randy Miller(R -West Linn), co-chair of The House Ways and Means Committee, turned down over $8,000,000.00 in Federal funds targeted for obesity for Oregon as Oregon is the first state West of the Rockies to have a 20% “Obesity Rate”; When this was discovered in a budget meeting, Mr. Miller said there are always strings attached to federal funds and Sen. Vicki Walker (D. Eugene) said “Who does he think he is, God?”

Clearly now, Miller not wrong, not holding a different opinion; Miller was the ENEMY.

And then came SAIF.

It began nobly enough. According to the Grants Pass Daily Courier,SAIF has been under siege almost constantly the past 18 months, ever since a desperate Legislature briefly considered raiding the insurer’s reserves to fill funding gaps. Then came the revelation that SAIF secretly paid $1.5 million for lobbying to ex-Gov. Neil Goldschmidt and former House Speaker Larry Campbell. State Sen. Vicki Walker, D-Eugene, was so incensed by that she pushed for major changes in SAIF, including taking away its status as an independent public corporation.” SAIF was now the enemy.

On Nov. 13, 2003, Gov. Kulongoski appointed Neil Goldschmidt to the State Board of Higher Education.

The confrontation began almost precisely on January 1, 2004. Walker made several public comments about Goldschmidt, and Goldschmidt fired back, locking horns over SAIF. Goldschmidt mentioned the thousands of dollars that Liberty Northwest had contributed to Walker’s 2002 Senatorial campaign. The Salem Statesman-Journal reported: “Walker called Goldschmidt’s comments ‘smarmy and inappropriate,’ and said her longstanding criticisms of SAIF had nothing to do with any campaign donations.”

How dare anyone question the crusader’s integrity? Whether or not the contributions contained the appearance of impropriety, the matter was beneath comment. (Walker has repeated this statement almost verbatim ever since.)

Boston-based Liberty Northwest is SAIF’s only competitor in the lucrative Workmen’s Compensation market, and contributed $7.5 million -- or 99.1% -- of the “Oregonians for Public Accountability” campaign to dismantle SAIF with Measure 38 in November. “Supporters of Measure 38 asserted that $500 million could be placed in programs to support Oregon education, provide prescription medicine to low-income people, help local law enforcement and pay for job training,” reported the Statesman-Journal.

Vicki Walker publicly endorsed Measure 38, and campaigned for it, even appearing on Lars Larson’s show to flog their shared position. But there was no conflict of interest, according to her.

Walker confronted Goldschmidt at his appointment hearings in January. She was still the crusader, wrote internet reporter Jim Pasero: “This winter, liberal Dem. State Sen. Vicki Walker challenged the state’s political dysfunction when she challenged Goldschmidt’s appointment. Of course, when you go to kill the king, you’re not supposed to miss. Royal retribution is an ugly, ugly thing. Walker’s challenge was probably a lot more successful than anyone cared to admit--those who rule Oregon, or those sheepish GOP leaders too stupid or too beaten down to join the fight. Good government crusaders are becoming harder for the ruling establishment to ignore ... The Portland Tribune’s Jim Redden, whose excellent reporting drove the story, described Walker as a ‘classic citizen legislator.’

“In an interview with Sen. Walker, posted on our website (www.brainstormnw.com) Jan. 19, Walker, a court reporter, read from her notes about a series of meetings with the ruling Democrat establishment. Those notes detail the extraordinary steps taken by the state’s establishment to quiet her. If you’re a Republican and you challenge the boss, you are ridiculed in the press (Bill Sizemore, Bob Tiernan), name-called and labeled by the likes of Steve Duin. If you’re a Democrat and you challenge the boss, you’re asked to attend closed-door meetings where you’re told to shut up. If you don’t, the whispering campaign begins–“She’s too combative… too emotional… not that stable.”

The non-combative, unemotional, and stable Walker was in the middle of taking on Goldschmidt when, according to Portland’s “Alternative” Willamette Week: “Eugene state Sen. Vicki Walker was driving home from Salem on Jan. 15 when Portland Tribune columnist Phil Stanford called ... What Stanford told her nearly caused Walker to drive off the road. ‘He said he had a document that showed that Neil Goldschmidt had sexually abused a 14-year-old girl,’ Walker says. ‘I said, ‘Oh, my God.’”

(Note how The Portland Tribune’s reporters drove the attack on Goldschmidt, but we’ll leave that one for another time.)

WW encapsulates the process thusly: “Although Phil Stanford’s book, Portland Confidential, was a Pacific Northwest Booksellers bestseller for three weeks running this fall, The Oregonian has thus far declined to review it. Stanford was the first reporter to obtain a Washington County court record that, while not mentioning Neil Goldschmidt, eventually led to disclosure of the ex-governor’s long-held secret of statutory rape. At a standstill, he passed it to state Sen. Vicki Walker, who subsequently gave it to WW.” (Note WW’s implicit accusation of “payback” by The Oregonian.)

What happened next has never been examined, even though it is a matter of public record. Instead, a moral conflagration ensued in the press, as the terms “sexual abuse” and “statutory rape” were bandied about freely to characterize Goldschmidt as a sexual predator or even a child molester. Goldschmidt was publicly lynched in the public eye, resigned his positions with the state, and Walker had triumphed. Her “enemy” Goldschmidt was no more.

She was safely anonymous. Any accusations of political vendetta were scrupulously protected by Willamette Week who was being touted as the little giant-killer in the national press, even as The Portland Oregonian was being pilloried from as far away as The Washington Post.

Never mind that “statutory rape” bears the same relationship to “rape” as “lightning bug” does to “lightning.” We Oregonians are a resolutely moral people -- especially when it’s someone else’s morality that’s at issue.

The Portland Monthly lauding WW, 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.


Hart Williams has been in print since 1973, and has written for — among others — The Washington Post, The Kansas City Star, The Los Angeles Herald Examiner and  The Los Angeles Free Press

hart_wms AT yahoo DOT com