JohnsonJohnson steps down from OBI post amid alleged remarks posted on 05/07/2018
HD 52 State Representative Mark Johnson, having been asked to step down from
the post he acquired last October as chief executive officer of Oregon Business
and Industry (OBI), has resigned from
the lobbying group amid allegations of racially insensitive remarks he directed
at a former colleague in
the Legislature. Johnson, a Hood River Republican, left the Oregon House to
take the OBI job after serving from 2011 to 2017.
allegation stemmed from a former employee of the lobbying firm OBI, Joel Fischer,
who told The Oregonian that Johnson had referred to Portland Democrat State
Representative Diego Hernandez, “and his chain migration homeboys from the hood.”
Oregonian broke the story in April after having it corroborated by two other
OBI employees present during the remarks.
is shocking (to) be accused of insensitivity on equity I care about,” Johnson
told The Oregonian. “I apologize to Rep. Diego Hernandez for any insensitive
comments I may have made.”
went further in a statement to The Mountain Times.
have no recollection of making the alleged comments,” Johnson said. “I don’t
know the context or the setting where they allegedly occurred. The quote as it
has appeared in the media does not reflect how I typically talk or words that I
his defense, Johnson pointed to his public service in support of the Hispanic community,
citing his work on
controversial measures like tuition equity which allows undocumented students
to be able to access post-secondary education by paying in-state tuition rather
than out-of-state tuition, plus supporting undocumented
residents to obtain drivers cards so they could buy insurance and obtain a
comments are attributed to me by a former employee (of OBI) and two unnamed
sources,” Johnson said.
“The story originated in a complaint brought by the former employee. I think
that is all clear in The Oregonian story. The (OBI) board had subsequently
completed an investigation with current staff and did not find evidence to
substantiate the claims … But I have no recollection of having made them.
been a real shocker for me and my family.”
to the situation, Johnson has also resigned from the Hood River School Board.
OBI board learned of Johnson’s comments at its April 10 meeting and reached a
unanimous decision to ask for Johnson’s resignation, according to OBI Chairman