February 4th, 2011 12:42 pm | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: Legislature, Politics

Former Lawmakers Want Goldschmidt's Portrait Gone

Two former  lawmakers today asked the current legislative leaders in a letter [PDF] to remove a portrait of former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt from the Capitol. Former Sen. Vicki Walker (D-Eugene) and ex-Rep. Tim Knopp (R-Bend) wrote:

"This letter is to respectfully ask for the removal of former Governor Neil Goldschmidt’s portrait from the State of Oregon Capitol Building and have it sent to permanent storage. In 2004, at the request of Representative Tim Knopp and Senator Vicki Walker, legislative leadership moved former Governor  Goldschmidt’s official portrait from its place outside the Senate Chambers to the legislative library. Although the original request was to remove it from the building, we  accepted the compromise to put it in the legislative library. We no longer believe that is appropriate."
The request comes a couple of days after WW and The Oregonian reported details of the life of the late Elizabeth Dunham, who died Jan. 16. Goldschmidt began sexually abusing Dunham in 1975, when he was the 35-year-old mayor of Portland and she was 13. Her name was never publicly revealed until this week.

"Considering the recent news stories containing new information regarding former Governor Goldschmidt's repeated rape of a 13-year-old girl, followed by a 30-year conspiracy of silence and cover-up by the former Mayor of Portland, we believe it’s no longer appropriate for his portrait to hang anywhere in the Oregon Capitol building. While we all recognize  the removal of former Governor Goldschmidt’s portrait is symbolic, it's important for leaders of the Legislative Assemblyto make a strong and clear statement that we, as Oregonians, support the victim whose life was cut short, no doubt in part by the actions of the former Governor," Walker and Knopp continued.
"Leaving the portrait at its current location in the legislative library, haunting young interns and staffers doing research, sends a message to them and the people of Oregon that our representatives will continue to honor a former governor even after the admission of this heinous and criminal betrayal of a minor, as well as one of the most serious violations of the public trust in Oregon's history. Why would any Oregonian want to honor the former Governor at the cost of his young victim?"   
While what Walker and Knopp are asking for may be controversial and not something members of either the Senate or the House are eager to tackle, the two former lawmakers point out in their letter that only a small fraction of governors' portraits hang in the Capitol. (One point of context: Walker, a sexual-abuse survivor, played a key role in exposing Goldschmidt's conduct. In 2004, she shared a court record with WW that ultimately led to the disclosure of his abuse of Dunham).

"Our request, however, is not an attempt to rewrite history.  We are not suggesting removing former Governor Goldschmidt from the history books.  However, we believe there are only 9 portraits out of 36 Oregon Governors that hang in a place of honor in the State Capitol.  Should one of them be an admitted rapist?" Walker and Knopp wrote. "We suggest not." 

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