The fight over Portland's water and sewer bureaus might be over, but Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown's office is still deciding whether not two staffers in the mayor's office broke campaign laws in the run-up to the May 20 vote.

Josh Alpert, a policy director in Mayor Charlie Hales' office, was accused last month of making a pitch against the proposed Portland Public Water District during work hours, which is illegal. And investigators are looking into whether mayor's office spokesman Dana Haynes broke the rules when he sent a press release that was partly critical of the water district in February.

No final determination has been made in either of those cases, and there's a maximum penalty of just $250 if Brown's office finds Hales' employees violated the rules. But here's Hales response to a set of questions the investigator Alana Cox sent him weeks ago. It jibes with Alpert's explanation of events.


As an elected official, the mayor is free to make comments on political campaigns, so long as he doesn't use public resources to do so. But Hales' staff is far more restricted in what they can say. Public employees aren't allowed to campaign during work hours. And for salaried workers like Haynes and Alpert, those hours aren't just 9 to 5 on weekdays.