PORTLAND, Ore. – The Oregon Department of Justice found that Sherriff Staton did not break any criminal laws when he gathered information on the members of the Charter Review Committee as they explored whether or not the Sheriff should be appointed rather than elected.
David Rogers, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, had the following comment:
“The DOJ’s conclusions represent only part of the picture. They only looked for violations of criminal law, not civil or administrative laws. The DOJ’s findings strongly suggest to us that Sheriff Staton violated the civil law that protects Oregonians from state surveillance as well as free speech and association rights.
“In a free country, people shouldn’t have to be afraid that law enforcement will investigate them simply because they are politically engaged. Sheriff Staton unquestionably broke the public’s trust and very likely the law, when he gathered information on the Charter Review Committee members, with absolutely no suspicion of any criminal wrongdoing.
“This is yet another example of top Oregon law enforcement surveilling innocent people. We call on the attorney general to make it clear that law enforcement is not allowed to track, monitor, or compile information about the political activities and associations of Oregonians who are not suspected of criminal activity.”