Former Senator Carter gets Golden Fleece Award

Golden Fleece Award, October 2009 – Margaret Carter and the Dept. of Human Services
By Common Sense for Oregon
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During the 2009 legislative session, former state senator Margaret Carter served as co-chair on the Joint Ways and Means committee which approved a bill that appropriated funds through new legislation to the Dept. of Human Services in the 2009 Legislative Session. The measure””HB 2009″”authorized the creation of addition deputy director positions. Margaret Carter was hired as the Deputy Director for Human Services Programs.

As a state senator, Carter earned $21,612 per year. In her new position, Carter will be making $121,872, fully $100,000 more than she made as a state senator.Carter’s employment in this new, lucrative position was assured. First, Carter lobbied the Director of the Department of Human Services for the position. It is not entirely clear when Carter started lobbying for the position””before or after HB 2009 became law””but it is clear that Carter wanted the $100,000 pay raise. Second, Carter lobbied the Governor’s office for the position.

Finally, unlike most candidate recruitment efforts that interview numerous candidates for an open position (especially a position with the responsibilities as the Deputy Director of Human Services Programs), the Department of Human Services only interviewed Carter for the position, virtually guaranteeing her employment as the new Deputy Director.

Even The Oregonian reported in August that Carter talked with both the Director of the Department of Human Services and the Governor’s office about the position. Carter’s lucrative position was created by the 2009 Legislature by House Bill 2009. Legislative records show that Carter’s committee worked on the measure.

In addition to the ethically questionable circumstances surrounding Carter’s employment, there are likely legal issues as well. Article IV, Section 30 of the Oregon Constitution prohibits legislators from filling “office(s) of profit” that the legislators themselves created during the legislative session. This constitutional provision is intended to avoid the circumstance where a legislator trades her vote in return for a lucrative job in an agency in which the legislator exercises control. In short, this constitutional provision is intended to prohibit exactly the circumstances surrounding Carter’s employment.

Article IV, Section 30 of the Oregon Constitution:
No Senator or Representative shall”¦be appointed to any civil office of profit which shall have been created during such term [i.e. created during the time for which the Legislator was elected].

A civil office of profit is any office that is continuing, prescribed by law, and invested with some powers of sovereignty. Wells v. State of Indiana, ex. rel. Peden, 175 Ind. 380, (1911). Deputy director positions are by definition a “civil office of profit”. Id. at 384-385.

House Bill 2009, passed by the 2009 Legislature, created the position of Deputy Director of Human Services.

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The Golden Fleece Award will be awarded on a regular basis to the person, politician or government agency responsible for the most notorious””and wasteful””example of spending highlighted in the previous month.

Common Sense For Oregon has set up an anonymous, toll-free tip line for citizens to call and nominate examples of government waste. The telephone number is 1-887-UFLEECE. Citizens can also visit and leave an anonymous message via our form on that website.