Kick 'em when they're down

The folks at the Oreg-Onion continue to, as one reader put it, "go after the scraps" in the Shemia Fagan moonlighting scandal that they pretty much missed. Following up on a weak earlier report, which implied that Fagan was not working a full work week, they sent out one of their better reporters to see who paid for her recent trip to Washington, D.C. with her two kids for the White House Easter egg roll.

Answer: The state paid Fagan's travel expenses, and her campaign paid for her kids to go along. Her boyfriend joined them, and apparently he paid his own way.

Fagan's lawyer says nothing she did was illegal, because she was at the event representing Oregon in her official capacity as then-secretary of state. That may in fact be true, and even if it isn't, who would go after her for the infraction? Some deputy of hers, who now serves as her interim replacement? The federal elections people, whoever they are, if they even exist?

And so as with her unconscionable side gig as a weed consultant, the question probably boils down to whether what Fagan did was ethical, as opposed to legally actionable. Now, I don't know too much about ethics, but for a while I did read some of the material produced by a guy named Michael Josephson, who was somewhat of an expert on the subject. I wrote about his writings, gosh, nearly two decades ago, here.

One of Josephson's best lessons lists a number of ethical fallacies – things people tell themselves when they're about to engage in unethical behavior. Justifications like "Everyone does it" and "It doesn't hurt anyone."

One of the fallacies is "I've got it coming to me." This thought goes as follows: Because you work harder than you get paid for, you're entitled to take a little extra on the sly, to make up the difference.

People who feel they are overworked or underpaid rationalize that minor "perks" -- such as acceptance of favors, discounts or gratuities -- are nothing more than fair compensation for services rendered. This is also used as an excuse to abuse sick time, insurance claims, overtime, personal phone calls and personal use of office supplies.

When you hear your inner voice saying stuff like this, you need to stop and think harder. Fagan didn't. As a consequence, she's out of politics with little apparent chance of getting back in.

That said, to me the O's game of "Who had the pickle?" hasn't gotten any less pitiful with this new add-on about who paid for the trip. Unless and until it's revealed that she's done something so far unrevealed, and far more serious, the reader's right: Now they're just picking a political carcass.


  1. I thought this one was interesting.

  2. Writing her out of politics is a bit premature.
    Sam almost made it back onboard

  3. For all of Fagan's sins, I am ecstatic she kicked Patrick Sheehan to the curb all those years ago.

  4. The O botched the Bob Packwood and Neil Goldschmidt scandals, respectively, so their coverage here is in keeping with their basic news philosophy of “We’re not covering it because we don’t want it to be true.”

    1. I think they know what’s true. They just.don’t won’t to air the families dirty laundry

  5. The O did this for nearly a year after the demise of Kitz. Like Fagan, Kitz brought it on himself...but still, the dance around funeral pyre should not have lasted for almost 12 months!

    "An irrelevance, and your life's altered." - Aldous Huxley


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