Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Our Capitol is reeling this week with reports and rumors of sexual harassment, unwelcome touching, and workplace discomfort. Complaints have been reported within the Senate, the House, and among lobbyists. These are important issues and need to be addressed in a serious way. None of us are immune and I wanted to explain, in some detail, my own involvement.
A story was published by The Oregonian/Oregonlive.com on Friday, reporting that I had improperly touched or otherwise offended two women in the Capitol.
When I make mistakes, and I do from time to time, it is my nature to offer apologies and not excuses. To those in our legislative community–and maybe here at home–whom I have offended or made the least bit uncomfortable, I am fully and sincerely sorry.
The elected leader of the House, Speaker Tina Kotek, made me aware on two occasions that my behavior made others uncomfortable. These incidents took place in 2013, and in 2015.
I do not know the names or the details of these informal, confidential complaints except that they involved either “inappropriate humor” or “inappropriate touching.” I understand the touching was not perceived as sexual but rather involved “personal space.” The reason I was not told more is to protect the privacy of these women. I understand and respect that decision, although I would very much prefer to know more detail. I would like to know who, where, or at least how I hurt someone so I can better address the specific problem and apologize directly. Again, these incidents occurred several years ago.
I come from a family, a business environment, and in fact, a generation where hugging is normal and generally appreciated. But different people, different cultures, and different age groups have different standards. Etiquette changes over time. This new era of people coming forward is bringing a better awareness of how actions that were intended innocently may be understood as having an uncomfortable, or unwelcome impact. I hope we will all be better off because of this increased sensitivity.
My actions have always been motivated by openness, respect, and friendliness. After I spoke with the Speaker, I took serious and immediate steps to understand and adjust my behavior. Those steps included personal counseling. I believe everyone is entitled to a workplace free of discomfort and harassment. I have worked my entire adult life to promote respect, acceptance, and opportunity for all Oregonians. You should expect the highest model of behavior from your elected officials and I have worked hard to attain and maintain that standard.
The Speaker has reported that these two incidents were resolved to the satisfaction of the women making the complaints.
I’m certainly sorry I offended two women. I’m humiliated to have this news become public. And I particularly regret how such circumstances affect my wonderful wife, Susan. But in the end, the system worked as it should. Someone raised a concern; that concern was addressed. I hope and believe I am a better person, and a better legislator now because of it.
email: Rep.DavidGomberg@oregonlegislature.gov phone: 503-986-1410
address: 900 Court St NE, H-371, Salem, OR, 97301