PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Filmmaker and Oscar nominee Gus Van Sant was among those urging Mayor Sam Adams to stay on the job Friday and weather a political storm over his sexual relationship with a teenager nearly four years ago.
Adams has admitted lying about the affair with the young man in 2005 to cover it up during last year's mayoral campaign, which made Portland the largest city in the country with an openly gay mayor.
About 400 supporters gathered Friday night outside City Hall to rally for the mayor, who has been under pressure to resign. Many hoisted homemade signs with messages that included, "Portland Can Forgive," and "Sam Is Human."
About a half dozen counter-protesters were sprinkled among the hundreds of supporters. Their signs read, "Resign Sam," and, "He Is Not My Mayor."
Adams took office Jan. 1 and is expected to decide within a few days whether he will resign, said spokesman Wade Nkrumah.
Oregon Attorney General John Kroger has agreed to investigate whether Adams committed any crime. City commissioners, the police chief and the local district attorney asked for the probe.
At the Friday night rally, singer and local celebrity Storm Large stood before the sea of supporters and sang the Tammy Wynette classic "Stand by your Man," though she changed the lyrics to "Stand By Your Sam."
Holding a video camera that panned the crowd, she also led Adams supporters with the chant, "Get Back To Work." She said the footage recorded would be delivered to the mayor, who was not at the rally and has not made any public appearances for the last two days.
Earlier this week, the 45-year-old Adams admitted having sex with a legislative intern who was 17 when they met. But Adams and Beau Breedlove both have said they did not have sex until he turned 18, the legal age of consent.
The mayor issued a public apology at a news conference on Tuesday but since has avoided any public appearances.
Adams told The Oregonian newspaper he has been consulting with his pastor and with his mentor, former Portland Mayor Vera Katz.
"These people I talked with today were blunt," Adams said. "They were brutally honest."
The Oregonian and three smaller Portland newspapers have called for his resignation but supporters rallied on his behalf throughout the day Friday.
Adams supporters held a noon news conference at City Hall, where Adams supporter Thomas Lauderdale, the pianist and leader of the Portland group Pink Martini, said he took the mayor's approval of the event as a sign that he was leaning toward staying on the job.
After Lauderdale and the mayor, who he considers a friend, communicated Thursday, the singer sent an e-mail to supporters saying Adams was "regaining his confidence and is determined to stay in office."
While Lauderdale backed away from the statement Friday, saying he overstated Adams' position, he said he was still hopeful the mayor would not resign. "Maybe I jumped the gun a bit," Lauderdale said.
About 20 Portland arts, business and gay leaders spoke Friday at the news conference, which included a statement from Van Sant, who has been nominated for an Academy Award for "Milk," his film about the slain San Francisco gay-rights leader and politician Harvey Milk.
In the statement, Van Sant criticized Adams but also offered support.
"Portland didn't elect Adams to resign at the first sign of controversy," said Dave Terry, a friend of Van Sant who read the statement at the news conference. "He was elected to do a big job."
Commissioner Dan Saltzman was the only city council member to attend the noon event.
Saltzman told supporters that he and his colleagues needed Adams to lead them through numerous challenges, including the task of securing a share of a proposed federal stimulus package.
"We want to see Sam come back to work," Saltzman said.
Previous Coverage of this Story
- Willamette Week: Adams will decide very soon
- Supporters rally for Sam Adams
- Adams a no-show as scandal divides city
- Calls grow for Adams to resign
- Explainer: How a recall of the election would work
- Beau Breedlove releases statement on Portland mayor
- Mayor says relationship wrong but he won't resign
- Sam Adams press conference - Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
- Mayor Adams exclusive interview with KATU
- Adams releases statement about relationship
- Adams admits to lying about sex with teen