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[ad_1] Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, one of many architects of the federal security web program that Douglas County commissioners tapped to fly in premium seats and journey with a canine, referred to as the spending inexplicable and mentioned he was contemplating whether or not a deeper audit was wanted.The Oregonian/OregonLive story revealing the lavish spending “highlights a point that my dad used to say: ‘One set of rip-offs is one too many,’” Wyden mentioned throughout a Friday assembly with the information group’s editorial board.“I saw some of the examples you gave,” Wyden mentioned. “You can’t explain those at a town hall meeting, that those are the ways taxpayer money is being used.”Since 2015, Douglas County’s elected leaders have used federal security web cash to purchase first-class and premium airfare. Commissioner Tim Freeman paid for his canine to stick with him at Sunriver Resort. They’ve eaten at banquet award dinners. One expensed a $200 meal at a Roseburg lounge. They’ve attended governing and timber trade conferences across the nation, staying in Jackson Gap, Skamania Lodge and Solar Valley.One commissioner, Chris Boice, traveled for 2 nights in November 2016 to a distant outpost in Arizona to speak about forest administration coverage with Doyel Shamley, a pure assets marketing consultant who’s additionally a far-right conspiracy theorist. Boice upgraded his airfare on one leg of his journey to premium class and used federal grant cash to pay for upgrades to his rental automobile, too.The commissioners have defended all of their spending as acceptable and referred to as the newspaper’s story unfounded. (Chosen receipts may be found here.)The journeys have been underwritten by the Safe Rural Colleges program, which pays jurisdictions like Douglas County that suffered financially after endangered species listings curtailed federal logging. The cash was purported to be spent on firefighting, wildfire planning and search and rescue efforts.Wyden co-authored the invoice creating this system in 2000 and lately has been working to make it everlasting. He mentioned he wished to finish “the rural rollercoaster” endured by counties that haven’t identified from 12 months to 12 months whether or not they may rely on the non permanent program being prolonged past the subsequent 12 months.Wyden informed the editorial board he was contemplating whether or not a extra expansive investigation of Safe Rural Colleges funding was wanted in Douglas County or a cross part of the lots of of others that obtain the cash. This system has delivered greater than $three billion to Oregon counties since its creation. Douglas County, house to the Umpqua Nationwide Forest, has obtained a number of the largest funds.“I haven’t made up my mind on the next steps,” Wyden mentioned. “My bottom line is: If you want to maintain this program and in my view reinvent it, you’ve got to show taxpayers that you’re being tough with respect to how the money is spent.”Wyden has already moved to ban the cash from being spent on lobbying in response to the newsroom’s earlier reporting. Douglas County commissioners repeatedly used it to fly to Washington, D.C. to foyer federal officers to extend timber harvests. That modification has cleared a Senate committee however not but the complete Senate.Wyden mentioned his first thought when he learn The Oregonian/OregonLive’s story describing the commissioners’ journey perks was, “There needs to be more oversight.”“I’m glad it’s coming out now,” he mentioned, “because it’s going to give me the leverage when we go to mark up a bill to make sure there are more rigorous rules for oversight.”— Rob Davisrdavis@oregonian.com503.294.7657; @robwdavisSubscribe to Oregonian/OregonLive newsletters and podcasts for the most recent information and prime tales. [ad_2] Source link