EUGENE, Ore. - Lane County Commissioner Rob Handy is in hot water again--facing allegations now of misusing his office for personal gain.
The allegations were connected to fines Handy is paying back from a 2010 lawsuit.
Lane County Commissioners met in an emergency session Wednesday to release documents in the new allegations against Handy.
It all draws a potential dark cloud over Handy's bid for re-election.
A Eugene attorney accused Rob Handy of trying to get contributions from people to help him pay off $20,000 he agreed to reimburse the county.
They are fines from the 2010 lawsuit where commissioners were found to have broken open meetings laws.
Eugene real estate broker and EWEB commissioner John Brown says he got a hand written letter from Handy, which in part reads, "Most of all, thanks for considering my request to pay off $3,000.00 of my debt to Lane County incurred in public service, that became a $20,000 settlement ramification for the unfair result of the lawsuit."
Handy said the allegations are bogus. "These are false allegations that have been made here and when I am exonerated, this election will be over," said Handy at an afternoon news conference.
According to Brown's attorney (Alan Thayer, Jr.), state law limits cash gifts to public officials to $50.00 and that with the $3,000 dollar request, Handy's letter to John Brown represents a violation.
The attorney says records he uncovered show Handy allegedly has collected just over 3-grand so far from other people, money not listed in Handy's finance disclosure forms.
Reporter Tom Adams asked Handy at the news conference, "I'll ask again, will you reimburse this money if you are so ordered to by the justice department?" Handy: "That's speculation; I fully expect to be exonerated."
Meanwhile, Handy's opponent, Eugene City Councilman Pat Farr, said the news caught him by surprise and he told KVAL News, "It's late in the campaign; a lot of people have voted already
and it's difficult to say exactly what shakes down out of that."
Commissioner Handy said he checked with the county finance office and claims he was told his asking for contributions to pay his fine was legally okay.
He added he mistakenly thought John Brown was a campaign supporter.
The chief county attorney said the county is cooperating with the state Department of Justice on the investigation.