Commissioner Hardesty targeted by ‘smear campaign’ in false hit-and-run allegation

Posted by on March 4th, 2021 at 1:22 pm

Hardesty at a press conference today.

Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty was forced to go on the offensive in a press conference in order to respond to false allegations that she left the scene of a hit-and-run.

The story emerged this morning from PJ Media and was later picked up by The Oregonian and other local outlets.

The writer of the PJ Media story, Jeff Reynolds, is also involved with the Coalition to Save Portland, a nonprofit that formed last fall with a goal to “restore law and order, reverse defunding of the police, end the decay of livability.” Reynolds is also a well-known Republican party operative.

In his story he alleged that Hardesty was driving a car that rear-ended someone on Wednesday and then left the scene. The story cited “law enforcement sources” for his information. The Oregonian story said, “Hardesty was listed as the suspect on a computer dispatch report.” None of the stories provided proof that directly connected Hardesty to these allegations and a police statement issued hours later cleared her 100%.

Advertisement

Hardesty held a press conference today where she said the episode is nothing more than a smear campaign design to harm her reputation.

“I’m here to tell you these allegations are false,” she said. “I have not driven my car in the last 24 hours. In fact, my car is inoperable because of a locked door and has been sitting in the same parking spot for about six months.”

“These allegations are very suspicious. This appears to be part of a coordinated smear campaign perpetrated by Jeff Reynolds, former chair of the Multnomah County Republican Party and a right-wing media personality.”
— Jo Ann Hardesty

“To be frank,” Hardesty continued. “These allegations are very suspicious. This appears to be part of a coordinated smear campaign perpetrated by Jeff Reynolds, former chair of the Multnomah County Republican Party and a right-wing media personality.”

Asked if she might have another car registered in her name, Hardesty said she donated one relatively recently to a local nonprofit, but that it was not involved in any incident. (She planned to find the paperwork and send it to media to prove it wasn’t the same car alleged to be in the hit-and-run.)

Asked why she feels she’s the victim of a smear campaign, Hardesty explained it’s a tried-and-true tactic for leaders like her.

“Is it because I’m the first African-American woman [on council]? Is it because I’m leading a transformation of the Portland Police Bureau? Is it because I demand accountability?”

Hardesty also connected the dot from a hit-and-run to her leadership of the Portland Bureau of Transportation. “What I know is that when someone says that I was involved in a hit and run as the commissioner in charge of transportation, that comes with additional burden. I’m trying to make Portland streets safe, so if I’m the commissioner-in-charge that totally discredits my reputation and the work that I’m doing.”

Hardesty said she wants a full investigation in the “false allegations” and wants the Portland Police Bureau to “use whatever means necessary to hold the individuals responsible and accountable.”

UPDATE, 4:05 pm: PPB just issued the following statement that clears Hardesty:

An investigation into an alleged hit-and-run crash involving property damage has revealed that a Portland City Commissioner is not a suspect.

On Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at about 11:24p.m., Portland Police responded to 13300 block of Southeast Stark Street on a report of a hit-and-run crash. The officer learned from the caller that her car had been rear-ended at about 4:48 p.m. near the intersection of Southeast 148th Avenue and East Burnside Street. The vehicle that allegedly struck the victim’s car then left the scene without exchanging information as required by Oregon state statute 811.700-Failure to perform duties of driver when property is damaged. The caller believed the suspect was City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty.

The Portland Police Traffic Investigation Unit (TIU) began an investigation and have ruled out Commissioner Hardesty as a suspect in the case. The complainant and the Commissioner’s office have both been notified.

This incident is still under investigation. If anyone has information about the suspect responsible, please contact TIU investigator Officer David Enz at David.Enz@portlandoregon.gov.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
— Get our headlines delivered to your inbox.
— Support this independent community media outlet with a one-time contribution or monthly subscription.

NOTE: Thanks for sharing and reading our comments. To ensure this is a welcoming and productive space, all comments are manually approved by staff. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for meanness, discrimination or harassment. Comments with expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia will be deleted and authors will be banned.

27
Leave a Reply

avatar
15 Comment threads
12 Thread replies
1 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
19 Comment authors
Chris IXJerome HafenerJRCharley Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
One
Guest

I’ve trusted JoAnn for years. She has been the only progressive voice on City Council. Of course the Republicans are trying to take her down. So is the police union. So is Ted Wheeler. We love you JoAnn! Please don’t let PJ Media/ Oregonian slow you down one bit. Keep leading JoAnn!

joan
Subscriber

This seems so dirty. When the mayor pepper sprayed someone, the news came out because someone (I think the pepper sprayer) contacted reporter Alex Zielinski at the Portland Mercury, and it took a few days for the police to make a statement. This story, which must include some lies at some level since the original Oregonian story said that the driver gave 911 the license plate number, was out within 24 hours of the alleged incident, and before any kind of press release from the Portland Police Bureau. Was there a hit and run? Who went and got JoAnn’s license plate number and reported it? Did that 911 call happen? What actually happened, and who is writing this narrative? And why is the Oregonian continuing to report poorly sourced hit pieces on JoAnn? It seems like this only fell apart so quickly because JoAnn doesn’t actually drive her car (cheers, JoAnn!). Seems like folks going after her will get smarter. Also, can we talk about how the police are protecting Ted and Dan Ryan but seemingly going after JoAnn?

The Dude
Guest
The Dude

Pure evil.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Ya, this one definitely stinks big time. I wouldn’t be surprised if the police union is involved.

Jerome Hafener
Guest
Jerome Hafener

So Jonathan you allow these unfounded left wing comments to post but you take down anything even centrist in nature? You might want to check your biases when you censor or censor a bit more even handedly. Thanks!
PS This smear campaign against Hardesty was disgraceful.

X
Guest
X

I disagree with the notion that Jonathan censors “centrist” comments. He’s pretty hard on name calling, threats or mention of personal violence, and comments that are excessively reactive against other commenters.

Sometimes I think a certain amount of right wing flapdoodle is allowed because the blog would otherwise be kind of dry and humorless.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Looks like my unfounded claim turned out to be true, for what it’s worth. The head of the PPA resigned just a few days after my prediction.

SilkySlim
Guest
SilkySlim

There some irony in the fact a false police report made by a pro-police advocate would actually be well handled be a “defunded” police force that doesn’t need to send an armed officer to investigate a fender bender.

David B
Guest
David B

if anyone is curious about PJ Media, you can learn all you need to know by reading a handful of comments on the original article. They’re in the biz of baiting their racist readers with articles like this.

rain panther
Guest
rain panther

“Cop-Hating Portland City Councilor Involved in Hit-and-Run Accident”.
Sure, that sounds like an impartial piece of reporting.

Alex
Guest
Alex

PJ Media is just a right-wing megaphone and not a reputable news source, right? Maybe that is worth noting in this piece? I’m glad you pointed out the potential for bias in the author of the PJ Media article, but referring to it as a “story” rather than an “op-ed” or “column” (it can be called a “blog post” if it wasn’t printed anywhere) gives it a journalistic air that it probably doesn’t deserve.

Michael Andersen
Subscriber

This is a troubling case of very bad journalism by The Oregonian (and even worse behavior by the organized Hardesty haters), but I don’t think there’s been nearly enough celebration of the fact that Portland’s current transportation commissioner

hasn’t had a working car in six months
simply because she can’t be bothered to fix it
can’t remember the make or model of her previous car

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Good thing we have free street parking for cars like this.

BEL
Guest
BEL

Very Presumptive. It’s parked in her driveway. She uses the bus to go to work.

Doug Hecker
Guest
Doug Hecker

She takes Uber instead. Not sure if that changes anything.

X
Guest
X

I’m no fan of Uber but a person who uses it sees the total payment they make in the same time frame as making the trip. That’s an important part of making a decision. People who make a trip in their personal car may have no immediate out-of-pocket expense since gas is cheap and parking is often free.

I diliberately said payment instead of cost because a lot of the cost is born by society, people who breathe much and especially people who might be living in about 2035.

Jim Labbe
Subscriber
Jim Labbe

Similar false smear tactics by GOP operatives were employed against Gresham City Councilor Eddy Morales in his bid for Gresham Mayor last year. Eddy has similarly championed reform and accountability of Gresham’s troubled and scandal ridden leadership. He aggressively pushed backed on the false accusations but they may have had an impact. He came within 14 votes of becoming Gresham Mayor.

One
Guest

Eddy Morales is amazing. I wish he were mayor of Gresham. I wish he was mayor of Portland!

SERider
Guest
SERider

Just a side note on car donation. Make sure you do keep that receipt for a long time. We donated a car to the Portland Rescue Mission years ago. After a couple of years we started getting letters and calls that the car was impounded in Olympia and we needed to pay for it. Portland Rescue Mission straightened it out (a few times, as we continued to get these calls looking for someone to pay for the towing).

The non-profits will often re-sell the car if they can (often after fixing it), and sometimes the new “owner” does not actually both to register the car, so the VIN will still be linked to you. So important to keep that paperwork from the non-profit.

Overall this story just sounds silly, and the O should do a better job of fact-checking, and not just going on random hearsay/slander.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Seems like a cautionary tale on car donation in general. I’d rather sell the car private party on Craigslist, then donate the proceeds. That was I know who I’m selling it to.

Of course, the lack of action by the DMV on title transfers right now is making this problem so much worse. I sent in paperwork to register a camping trailer last September and I still don’t have my title transfer back from the DMV.

X
Guest
X

If the allegation was so easily refuted maybe there’s potential for a lawsuit. The Oregonian lives down to its reputation–this is the paper that sat on the Packwood story. If I cared more about their “journalism” I’d look to see what kind of retraction they ran, if any.

The Republican Party is rotten to the core.

Steve Scarich
Guest
Steve Scarich

I’m curious why everybody is angry at the Oregonian. They posted a story about an investigation of a hit and run involving a well known person. They verified that a report had been made and that an investigation was ongoing. They talked to Hardesty and published her denial. What do people want them to do? Sit on a story of such wide interest? They could have spent a couple of days doing further research and possibly discovered bad acts by the original reporter, but then they would have been accused of hiding a big story. I was suspicious of the original story myself, but also suspicious of anyone who does not remember the make and model of their previous car. btw you can still notify DMV that you have transferred a vehicle to another party on the day of transfer. It is done on-line.

X
Guest
X

That story came from the Dumpster. They should have sniffed it before taking a bite.

Evan Manvel
Guest
Evan Manvel

Let’s be clear: a police officer leaked the report to the right-wing media, so the story would appear. If the officer hadn’t done that, no huge lie-halfway-around-the-world-before-the-truth-gets-on-its-boots on moment.

Source: Willamette Week

The cops knew they had a friend. The right-wing fake news ran with it. The other media (WWeek and Oregonian) ran the accusation, with nothing more than the alleged-actually-false ID by the hit-and-run victim.

But the main problem is the cops don’t like being held accountable. They worked to smear and attack the person working to hold them accountable. They’re the main problem (and eager-for-clicks-news also a problem).

The time for accountability means reining in the out-of-control police budget. The City Council needs to hold them accoutable.

Charley
Guest
Charley

YES YES YES. This is outrageous behavior, and validates so much of the energy behind the movement to reform the police.

JR
Guest
JR

Lots of good points made in prior comments about police and right wing media collaboration. I would also question the person who made the report and identified JoAnn as the other driver. That would be very hard to do if they never got out of the car, especially if the person didn’t personally know JoAnn. I would have a hard time identifying a close friend unless I associated their face with a car I knew they owned. We all know how hard it is to tell if drivers can see us on bikes due to tinted windows and slope of the glass. This whole incident really reeks.

X
Guest
X

Any day now, a middle aged white guy with a nice haircut will do a hit-and-run and we’ll have Mayor Ted as a suspect.