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Mississippi State Flag Removed from Oregon Capitol Circle of Flags

March 11, 2016

Last June there was a bill introduced by Rep. Lew Frederick to remove the “Confederate” Mississippi flag from the “circle of flags” at the State Capitol.  Though I didn’t have any great heartburn one way or the other what I did have a problem with was with WHO owns the flag?  So I was able to work with the representative to hold off that bill until we could find out more.  The Oregonian covered this story last year HERE.

Fast forward to this week.  Rep. Tina Kotek the House Speaker and Senate President Peter Courtney, without the consultation of the body nor with the public in general, unilaterally decided the flag come down: Story Here.

I did some investigation today and found out that what I feared last year were indeed true. The Speaker and the President of the Senate took down something that did not belong to them.  They ORDERED Capitol staff to take the flag down (as an aside.  In fact the flags are paid for and replaced by the Capitol Foundation (their website HERE).  This is  a non profit organization.  The “logic” behind their move is that the Capitol Foundation buys the flags but then “donates” them to the legislative body.  Hmm….

The actual “owner” of the display is Sen. Brian Boquist and his wife Peggy as evidenced in this picture:


In an earlier story, this is what was written about the flag’s ownership:

Sponsorships for each state, which paid for a flag, a flagpole and a bronze plaque bearing each sponsor’s name, cost about $1,000. Flags were offered -come, first-serve, with most people clamoring for the states closest to Oregon.

The Mississippi flag, interestingly enough, was among the last to find a sponsor: Sen. Brian Boquist, R-Dallas, and his wife, Peggy.

Boquist, an Army lieutenant colonel who’d just returned from the Iraq war, said he didn’t intend to reply after foundation officials emailed lawmakers asking for money. But then, he said, “they came to me late with hat in hand.”

He said Mississippi was one of “a couple of states left,” and he said he picked it because of its large National Guard population — including units he’d fought with, as he put it, “in the sand box.” He dedicated the flag to “Oregon’s Citizen Soldiers.” Boquist, at the time, also was serving as vice chair of the House’s veterans affairs committee.

In consulting the Capitol website I found this:

Legislative Administration Committee Members

  • Senate President Peter Courtney, Co-Chair
  • Speaker Tina Kotek, Co-Chair
    • Senator Ted Ferrioli
    • Senator Ginny Burdick
    • Senator Fred Girod
    • Senator Diane Rosenbaum
    • Senator Bill Hansell
    • Senator Lee Beyer, Alternate for the Senate
    • Representative Phil Barnhart
    • Representative Jennifer Williamson
    • Representative John Huffman
    • Representative Mike McLane
    • Representative Greg Smith
    • Representative Nancy Nathanson, Alternate for the House

The committee, authorized by ORS 173.710, is composed of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President of the Senate (who serve as co-chairs), and members of the House and Senate appointed by them. No more than three House members of the committee shall be of the same political party. No more than three Senate members of the committee shall be of the same political party.

Were all of these members consulted?

So, whether you like the flag or not, the Speaker and the Senate President had NO….ZERO right to remove that flag without consulting the entire Legislature and that can only be done through the legislative process.

My advice is to call these two offices and demand a FULL vote of the people of Oregon and/or the Legislature and until then, put the flag back up!

Call 503-986-1600 for Sen. Courtney’s office and 503-986-1200 for Speaker Kotek’s office.  Or email: sen.petercourtney@state.or.us or rep.tinakotek@state.or.us

I would really appreciate you getting back to me with the kinds of answers you received when you call or email.  Please email to me what you are told by the staffer who will most likely answer you.  repbill@billpost.us



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