State Rep. Matt Wingard won't seek re-election after sex allegation

State Rep. Matt Wingard won't seek re-election after sex allegation
FILE - Rep. Matt Wingard, R-Wilsonville. (KATU News File photo)

PORTLAND, Ore. - State Rep. Matt Wingard, R-Wilsonville, says he won't seek re-election after a former aid accused him of pressuring her to have sex and that he supplied alcohol to minors.

"After balancing the tremendous respect that I have for the voters, and above all, my concern for my family, I have reached the decision not to seek another term as District 26 State Representative," he wrote on his website.

He said he would continue serving as a legislator until voters elect a new representative and that person is sworn in.

House Republican leader Kevin Cameron says it's the right decision for Wingard, and that Republicans will be able to replace Wingard on the November ballot.

Last week Wingard stepped down from the post of deputy Republican leader in the state House after the allegation came to light. He released a statement apologizing for his actions but did not directly address the allegations.

Authorities at the Oregon Department of Justice closed their investigation without filing charges after the woman, now 23, said the sex was consensual.

According to the investigators' report, the woman told authorities in January that Wingard pursued her while she worked for him during the 2009 legislative session. She said Wingard would ignore her if she didn't agree to his requests to have dinner or to send explicit text messages. She said she felt like Wingard was punishing her, so she complied to avoid a hostile work environment.

The woman said she had a sexual relationship but she ended it and she eventually quit her job. She also told investigators that Wingard would frequently host parties at his house and provide alcohol to minors, and that she attended several of them before she was 21.

The woman said she tried to put the incidents behind her but called Department of Justice investigators after running into Wingard at a wedding and a political function. In their report, investigators wrote that the woman appeared uncomfortable and that she told them she had never discussed the allegations in detail. She said she did not want to file a report or be a victim.

Investigators concluded the sexual relationship was not a crime because the woman consented to it, and the statute of limitations had run out on alcohol charges.

The allegations were first reported last Wednesday by Willamette Week.

The Oregonian reported Tuesday that several Republican lawmakers and candidates began distancing themselves from Wingard after the news about the allegations broke.


Wingard's full statement as posted on his website:

After balancing the tremendous respect that I have for the voters, and above all, my concern for my family, I have reached the decision not to seek another term as District 26 State Representative. 

I will continue to serve in office until a new representative is elected and sworn in. During my time of service, we’ve accomplished many things that have made this District and our great State a better place.

I decided to run in 2008 because I could not find an education reform champion in the Oregon Legislature.  Giving low-income and minority children access to a world-class education has been my passion for more than a decade. I am very pleased that last year we were able to pass the most comprehensive package of education reforms in Oregon history giving tens of thousands of parents and students more school choices. I am dedicated to that political struggle.

I wish to thank my family, especially my son, my dedicated staff, and all of my friends within the Republican Party.  Thank you for the hundreds of messages of support.  I will forever be grateful to you for your kindness.

Above all, I would like to thank the citizens of District 26 for the privilege of representing you.  It is my honor and pleasure to serve you.