Reacting

Rep. David Gomberg.

According to The Oregonian, two people have made complaints about the conduct of State Rep. David Gomberg (D) in Salem.

Gomberg tells the newspaper that the complaints occurred several years ago. According to the report, Gomberg said he took action to adjust his behavior.

House Speaker Tina Kotek tells the Oregonian that the persons complaining were satisfied with Gomberg's reaction to their concerns.

See the report at www.oregonlive.com

The News Guard contacted Rep. Gomberg about the Oregonian report.

Rep. Gomberg tells The News Guard the allegations were unwanted hugging or invasion of personal space. He gave The News Guard the following statement.

"I do not know the specific details. I don't know who, how or when. This information is withheld to protect the privacy of the complainant. Quite frankly, I don't know whether this was a legislator, a lobbyists or a staff person. I don't know if it was inside the building or outside the building. I don't even know if it was a man or a woman. But when the speaker brought to me these concerns, I took immediate steps to better understand and adjust my behavior. I also sought counseling. This was done in 2015. 

I have publicly apologized to anyone that I have made feel uncomfortable. I believe all Oregonians have a right to a safe and comfortable workplace. I believe that all Oregonians have the right to expect the highest model of behavior from their elected officials.

I am sincerely sorry to anyone that I hurt and I have done my very best to address these concerns. I feel now that I am a better legislator and a better person for the experience."

The News Guard also contacted Speaker Kotek about the Gomberg incident. The following is her response.

“Since becoming Speaker, I have only received workplace harassment complaints about one House member. On two separate occasions two different individuals raised informal concerns with my office about Rep. David Gomberg.

While our legal advisors did not believe the behavior rose to the level of formal workplace harassment, we nonetheless took these incidents very seriously.

Without going into the specifics of the incidents in order to protect the requested confidentiality of the complainants, I will say that I directly addressed the issues with Rep. Gomberg, and he sought outside support to gain better awareness of his behavior and the impact it has on other individuals. The issues were addressed to the satisfaction of the complainants."

Still, as a woman and as a person in a position of leadership, I know firsthand that we must do better. Today, I signed on to a bipartisan letter encouraging more people to speak up.

The Senate President and I are initiating a formal, external review of our policies and training to make sure we do better going forward. Finally, I hope the confidentiality of those who bravely spoke up will be respected.”

Following the conversation with The News Guard, Gomberg sent out a public newsletter with the following information.

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Our Capitol is reeling this week with reports and rumors of sexual harassment, unwelcome touching, and workplace discomfort. Complaints have been reported within the Senate, the House, and among lobbyists. These are important issues and need to be addressed in a serious way. None of us are immune and I wanted to explain, in some detail, my own involvement.

A story was published by The Oregonian/Oregonlive.com on Friday, reporting that I had improperly touched or otherwise offended two women in the Capitol.

When I make mistakes, and I do from time to time, it is my nature to offer apologies and not excuses. To those in our legislative community--and maybe here at home--whom I have offended or made the least bit uncomfortable, I am fully and sincerely sorry.

The elected leader of the House, Speaker Tina Kotek, made me aware on two occasions that my behavior made others uncomfortable. These incidents took place in 2013, and in 2015.

I do not know the names or the details of these informal, confidential complaints except that they involved either "inappropriate humor" or "inappropriate touching." I understand the touching was not perceived as sexual but rather involved “personal space.” The reason I was not told more is to protect the privacy of these women. I understand and respect that decision, although I would very much prefer to know more detail. I would like to know who, where, or at least how I hurt someone so I can better address the specific problem and apologize directly. Again, these incidents occurred several years ago.

I come from a family, a business environment, and in fact, a generation where hugging is normal and generally appreciated. But different people, different cultures, and different age groups have different standards. Etiquette changes over time. This new era of people coming forward is bringing a better awareness of how actions that were intended innocently may be understood as having an uncomfortable, or unwelcome impact. I hope we will all be better off because of this increased sensitivity.

My actions have always been motivated by openness, respect, and friendliness. After I spoke with the Speaker, I took serious and immediate steps to understand and adjust my behavior. Those steps included personal counseling. I believe everyone is entitled to a workplace free of discomfort and harassment. I have worked my entire adult life to promote respect, acceptance, and opportunity for all Oregonians. You should expect the highest model of behavior from your elected officials and I have worked hard to attain and maintain that standard.

The Speaker has reported that these two incidents were resolved to the satisfaction of the women making the complaints.

I’m certainly sorry I offended two women. I’m humiliated to have this news become public. And I particularly regret how such circumstances affect my wonderful wife, Susan. But in the end, the system worked as it should. Someone raised a concern; that concern was addressed. I hope and believe I am a better person, and a better legislator now because of it.

Most sincerely,

David Gomberg

Email: Rep.DavidGomberg@oregonlegislature.gov

Phone: 503-986-1410

Address: 900 Court St NE, H-371, Salem, OR, 97301

website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/gomberg

Follow this story online at thenewsguard.com, on The News Guard's Facebook page, and in print, in the Wednesday editions of The News Guard.

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