Mayor Sam Adams-Beau Breedlove scandal shakes up Portland


by By Staff

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 3:26 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 1 at 6:03 PM

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Portland Mayor Sam Adams said he would not resign his post, depite admitting he lied during his mayoral campaign about having a sexual relationship with an 18-year-old legislative intern.

In a video statement released Sunday, Mayor Adams insisted he would remain on the job, saying that the city faced some of its "toughest times" in history and that he would work harder than ever for Portlanders.

"I go back to work as your mayor. I know I have let you down and made mistakes. I ask your forgiveness. I believe I have a lot to offer the city I love during this time of important challenges," the statement said. Read: Full statement


Mayor admits lying during campaign

On January 19, Mayor Adams admitted that he lied during the mayoral campaign when he denied having a sexual relationship legislative intern Beau Breedlove, who was 18 years old at the time. Details of the mayor's relationship with former intern Beau Breedlove were revealed in an article in Willamette Week. The revelations came just 18 days after Adams was sworn into office as Mayor of Portland, and became the first openly gay mayor elected in a major metropolitan area. 

Timeline: Adams-Breedlove Affair

During the campaign, when rumors surfaced about Adams and a potentially inappropriate relationship, then-City Councilor Adams denied the charges and accused critics of gay bashing. He even issued an open letter to the citizens of Portland, denying the reports. Read: Adams letter denies relationship

However, an interview published on Sunday further detailed the young man's past relationship with Mayor Adams. Beau Breedlove told the Oregonian newspaper that he and Adams kissed twice prior to his 18th birthday. Breedlove also corroborated Adams' claims that the two did not have a sexual relationship until after he turned 18. Breedlove said the relationship was consensual and that he never felt like a victim. The relationship took place in 2005.

Resignation discussed, debated

Adams arrived at City Hall Saturday after a four-day absence and met with each city commissioner individually, in private meetings that were not open to the public. Under Portland City Council procedure, individual meetings do not have to be made open to the public.

Commissioner Dan Saltzman said he urged Adams to remain as mayor; Commissioner Nick Fish would not discuss details of his meeting.

Hundreds showed up in front of City Hall Friday evening to show their support for the mayor, but Adams did not make an appearance, instead spending the day gathering advice on whether or not he should stay in office, according to his staff.

Earlier Friday, a group of representatives from Portland's arts, business and civic communities gathered Friday in City Hall to voice their support as picketers shouted at each other outside.

Commissioner Dan Saltzman joined those supporting Adams, calling him "the right man" for the job despite the mayor's admission that he lied about the relationship.

"He has got so many ideas, so many things he cares about in this city. He loves this city," Saltzman said. "And I think he's the mayor that we need at this point to keep this city moving forward in these tough times."

Groups had formed online in support of the mayor even as a recall effort was also underway at another website.

"I'm not sure he can ever get back my loyalty," Commissioner Randy Leonard told KGW.

More: Supporters, critics mobilize

Adams did not appear in public after a Tuesday press conference detailing the relationship and cover up.


Local papers call for resignation

Portland's gay newspaper and the editorial boards of both the Oregonian newspaper and the Portland Tribune all callied on Mayor Adams to resign. The head of the Portland Police Union also joined the call for Adams' resignation.

"Does this set a precedent that every single city employee is now allowed to lie? I think he should resign," Portland Police Union President Scott Westerman said.


Legal inquiry launched

City Commissioner Randy Leonard called for a third-party investigation to clarify the timing of the sex and if any rules were broken to benefit the mayor and his career.

In addition, Oregon Attorney General John Kroger is launching an inquiry into the scandal at the request of Portland Police Chief Rosie Sizer and Multnomah County District Attorney Michael Schrunk. More: Attorney General to investigate


Mayor apologizes for lie

On Tuesday, Mayor Adams publicly acknowledged having a sexual relationship with Breedlove, a legislative intern he mentored in 2005. In a Tuesday afternoon press conference, Adams apologized to the public for previously lying about it. Adams said it was a serious error in judgement, but he "has no plans to resign." 

"This is a terrible thing I've put the city through and I feel really badly about it," Adams said. "I need to make sure I've gotten the pros and cons of staying and the pros and cons of leaving."

Adams apologized, saying the scandal presented "a low point" in his life. Adams went on to say he believes an investigation will not reveal any criminal behavior. 

The mayor admitted to having sex with Breedlove within a month of his 18th birthday, and that "the affair lasted maybe two months."

"I should have been honest at the time about my true relationship with Beau. I'm deeply sorry I asked Beau to lie on my behalf," Adams said. "This was a serious error on my part. It happened about four years ago, in my personal and professional life, and my job right now is to come clean."


Intern tells his side

Beau Breedlove has not spoken publicly since Adams admitted to the affair. He did release a statement, in which he said:

"Reflecting back, I regret misleading anyone about the nature of the relationship. When the subject first surfaced during the campaign, I was living out-of-state and I did not anticipate the impact it might have on Portland's mayoral campaign. While my first instinct was to tell the truth, I also wanted to protect Sam Adams' reputation, considering our valuable friendship." Read: Beau Breedlove statement

A state gay rights advocacy group, Basic Rights Oregon, issued a statement Tuesday saying Mayor Adams "exercised poor judgment," but went on to say he had "demonstrated his commitment to (Portland) and its people." Read: Basic Rights Oregon statement

Adams said he intended to immediately make public all e-mail and phone records from the period of the relationship with Breedlove, which the mayor claims occurred during the summer of 2005.

The mayor also said he and Breedlove discussed a relationship prior to the intern's 18th birthday, when Breedlove was still a minor, but that he could not engage in an "inappropriate relationship" with someone legally underage.

Adams was asked repeatedly by the Portland press why voters should trust his judgment now, considering that he had lied through his campaign for mayor.

"I made a mistake ... I did not want to subject Beau to another round of media inquiries. I decided to come clean and tell the truth," the mayor said.


Adams: No plans to resign

Adams pointed to his two-decade career as a public official and asked Portlanders to look closely at his record.

"I messed this one up, but it's an anomaly over the two decades that I've served Oregonians and Portlanders," he said.

Adams said his punishment will be a complete loss of public trust. Adams acknowledged he had not yet apologized to Breedlove's parents but that he planned to. He also said that this was not an issue of sexual orientation; rather, it was an issue of a public official lying, in his opinion.

"I don't think this is fundamentally an issue about sexual orientation. Other people can debate that," he said.


Adams had denied affair previously

In 2007, Adams said the rumors of the affair were politically motivated and flatly denied the relationship. He also told the public it was a non-sexual relationship.

"I'm not going to go down without a fight because this is not true," Adams told KGW in September 2007. "This is one of the worst smears you can make against a gay guy. It preys on the homophobic stereotype that gay men cannot be trusted with young people."

Then City Commissioner Adams published an open letter to Portlanders in 2007 denying the charges and calling them "smear tactics."

Adams also said at the time that he did exchange occasional text messages and phone calls while mentoring Breedlove, but he swore he never did anything inappropriate. More: Adams called 17-year-old 33 times

Adams admitted to the sexual relationship with Breedlove just as the Willamette Week prepared to publish a story concerning the relationship.


Adams at inauguration when story broke

Mayor Adams was in the Capitol for Obama's inauguration when word of the scandal broke on Monday. He returned to Portland instead of remaining for the inaugural festivities.

Mayor Adams said the sex scandal had tainted President Barack Obama's inauguration for Portland residents but that it "would have been highly inappropriate for me to stay in Washington."

He admitted that he may have been elected under false pretenses since he had covered up the relationship and avoided answering whether or not Portland would have elected him mayor had the allegations come out prior to Election Day.

Adams has been mayor of Portland since January 1, 2009.

Nick Bradshaw and KGW Reporter Randy Neves contributed to this report.