Rep. Sarah Gelser gets payday for political posturing

Sarah Gelser_payday

The Leadership Fund

Corvallis, OR – Sarah Gelser (D-Corvallis) received $5,000 from the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association Political Action Committee this week, mere months after she supported controversial legislation to give trial lawyers a raise under the guise of funding Legal Aid. House Bill 4143, supported by Gelser, was ultimately defeated in the Senate thanks to a bi-partisan coalition of Senators.

“Sarah Gelser voted to give trial lawyers a huge payday, disguised as a fight to fund legal aid,” said Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day). “This is the first installment of the special interest slush fund that will fuel Gelser’s campaign. The cards are on the table and this shows where her priorities lie.”

While attempting to rewrite Oregon tort law to give trail lawyers a significant bump in the fees they reap from class action lawsuits, Gelser claims to have been helping fund Legal Aid and other programs for the poor. However, funding for these programs would have been a tiny fraction of the windfall for Trial Lawyers.

House and Senate Democrat Majority Leaders failed to make legal aid funding a priority in 2014. By not passing House Bill 4053, they squandered any opportunity to reverse four years of cuts to legal aid enacted under their leadership. As a result, low-income Oregonians in need of legal defense suffered.

“The people of Albany and Corvallis deserve a Senator who will be independent, not beholden to special interests groups,” said Ferrioli. “Gelser’s vote may not have been good for the community, but it is paying off for her fundraising efforts.”

Gelser is running for State Senate against Senator Betsy Close (R-Albany/Corvallis).