University President Faces Ethics Complaint

Article excerpt

Byline: Greg Bolt The Register-Guard

A University of Oregon professor has filed an ethics complaint against UO President Dave Frohnmayer, alleging that Frohnmayer improperly failed to list a real estate sale and purchase on his state-required financial interest disclosure.

The complaint, filed by economics professor Bill Harbaugh, is under preliminary evaluation by the Government Standards and Practices Commission. The agency, commonly known as the ethics commission, will decide by Nov. 19 whether to pursue a formal investigation.

Harbaugh also filed a similar complaint with the Oregon State Bar, alleging that the omission violates the bar's ethics rules as well. Frohnmayer is a licensed attorney and former attorney general.

The complaint does not allege that the sale and purchase were in any way improper or that Frohnmayer was unjustly enriched by the transactions. The main issue is whether Frohnmayer properly disclosed financial information on a form known as the Statement of Verified Economic Interest, a form all high-level state employees are required to submit annually.

Frohnmayer has disputed the complaint and is filing a response with the ethics commission today. Frohnmayer said the homes were his principal residence, which is exempt from disclosure.

Harbaugh said that's not correct. Frohnmayer, who lives with his wife in the state-owned McMorran House south of the university, should count that as his principal residence and therefore should have disclosed their sale last year of a house on Baker Boulevard and subsequent purchase of a town home on Spyglass Drive.

"I think that his excuses for not recording this transaction are very implausible," he said.

Frohnmayer is required to live in McMorran House under his contract with the UO. The couple owns a private residence so they will have a home when Frohnmayer leaves the university; until then, they rent the house to a tenant.

Frohnmayer, who helped draft the ethics laws as attorney general, said he couldn't claim McMorran House as his primary residence because it's not his. …