The Oregon Secretary of State's Office is investigating a criminal complaint filed against Don Puckett, the Rainier resident who started the recall effort to oust City Council members Russ Moon and Dave Langford.
The complaint was received on Nov. 10, and the investigation is expected to be completed by the end of the month, according to Andrea Cantu-Schomus, communications director for the secretary's office. A letter sent from the Secretary of State's office to Puckett said the complaint alleges a violation of a state statute that says "A person may not knowingly make a false statement, oath or affidavit when a statement, oath or affidavit is required under the election laws."
Details about the exact nature of the complaint or who filed it have not been released because the investigation is ongoing. However, it has been classified a criminal investigation based on the claims levied against Puckett, according to Cantu-Schomus.
The investigation will not delay the recall election.
Puckett said Tuesday that he wasn't worried about the investigation, believing it stems from his recall effort.
He filed a petition to recall Langford and Moon late last month, accusing both men of operating independently of the council and bullying city staff and fellow council members. In only a week, he was able to garner more than the 110 signatures required to mandate a recall election.
Puckett also admits he didn't start attending council meetings until October, and that he is working as a proxy for "prominent people within the community."
"It says ‘true to the best of my knowledge,'" Puckett said about the disclaimer on the petition. "And to the best of my knowledge, it's true."
Langford and Moon could not be reached for comment, but are both on record as accusing Puckett of spreading "fabrications."
"(Puckett) has stated that I made back-room deals with various agencies," Langford wrote in his rebuttal to the recall petition's claims, "yet has not been able to provide any evidence due to the fact that there are none. ... (He) has admitted publicly that he has no standing in the order to bring such a recall effort; he has stated that he is ‘acting as a pawn.'"
"Puckett," Moon wrote in his statement, "openly (admits) that he has never witnessed any of the behavior or actions in the recall. The accusations are false, malicious and unfounded."
Working in the stead of someone else shouldn't hurt his credibility, Puckett said.
"I don't see why that has anything to do with it," Puckett said. "It's my constitutional right to do this."
Ballots for the recall election will be mailed out Monday and must be returned to City Hall or the Columbia County Elections Office by Dec. 13.
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