Commissioner Hardesty says she takes ‘full responsibility’ over issue of failing to pay debt
PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) – A Multnomah County judge has ruled Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty must pay a credit card company more than $16,000 in overdue debts and fees after failing to appear in court.
Default orders were issued last week by Circuit Judge Judith Matarazzo on a set of lawsuits filed by Bank of America in November. According to documents, Hardesty defaulted on two credit card accounts, which the bank is currently suing the commissioner over.
In the first case, Judge Matarazzo approved a $4,900 lien against Hardesty on March 21. An $11,700 penalty over the second case followed three days later.
Filed documents show neither Hardesty nor a legal representative appeared in court over the matter.
Official budget filings from the City of Portland show Hardesty making a six-figure salary over the last three years due to her role as elected commissioner. The 2022-23 city budget shows Hardesty will earn a salary of $127,712 this year.
In a separate legal matter, Hardesty is suing the police union, its former president, and an officer for $5 million after she was falsely linked to a hit-and-run crash.
On Thursday, Hardesty released a statement about the judgement saying, in part, “I should have done more when I did not see any notice. This is my mistake, and I take full responsibility. This was a personal failing and has no impact on my official responsibilities. I regret that it is taking away energy and focus from the good work we have done together for our city like Portland Street Response, which we expanded citywide this week.”
Hardesty went on to say that she made an initial payment and has set up regular deductions from her wages to “settle the matter.”
Read full statement from Commissioner Hardesty:
Earlier this week the Oregonian ran a follow-up on my $16,000 personal debt. I made an initial payment today, and have set up regular deductions from my wages to settle the matter. I should have done more when I did not see any notice. This is my mistake, and I take full responsibility. This was a personal failing and has no impact on my official responsibilities. I regret that it is taking away energy and focus from the good work we have done together for our city like Portland Street Response, which we expanded citywide this week.
On day one I fulfilled my campaign promise to hire an experienced finance director to ensure my office finances are impeccably managed and have their expertise in the bureaus I oversee. At the time we were the only commissioner’s office with this position.
I have made it my priority as commissioner to elevate the voices of our communities and ensure we are included as the city makes decisions and policies that impact our lives. I am learning from this mistake and have faith that it will make me stronger. I will continue to be transparent, own my mistakes, and show up for Portland.
Like most Portlanders, I have worked my whole life. Living paycheck-to-paycheck for 60 years before becoming your commissioner was hard, and I often struggled to make ends meet. In that way, I’m no different than the vast majority of Portlanders. Once I got elected and back to work as your city commissioner, I budgeted my salary to pay down my debts and cover medical expenses.
My reasons for running remain clear – fighting for working families and vulnerable communities in our policy-making; being honest about the problems we face; and creating solutions that are equitable, accountable, and transformative.
Your commissioner and neighbor,
Jo Ann Hardesty
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