PORTLAND, Ore. — A Multnomah County judge has ordered Portland Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty to pay more than $16,000 in unpaid credit card bills and fees.
According to an article published by The Oregonian, Circuit judge Judith Matarazzo issued default orders last week in two lawsuits filed by Bank of America in November 2021. The lawsuits alleged Hardesty had defaulted on two credit card accounts. The Oregonian also reported that records show neither Hardesty nor an attorney representing her appeared in court or filed a written notice in the two cases.
In response to the judge's ruling, Hardesty released an email statement on Thursday. The commissioner said she made an initial payment the same day and set up regular deductions from her 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," Hardesty wrote. "This was a personal failing and has no impact on my official responsibilities."
An attorney for Bank of America contacted Hardesty at least a month before filing the lawsuit on Dec. 1, 2022, demanding she pay the outstanding balance on her accounts, but later wrote in court filings she "has failed or refused to pay the balance due."
Hardesty previously said she accrued her unpaid debt while running for city council in 2018 and was reliant on a credit card, but that she had intended to pay the bank the money back.
The commissioner filed an unrelated lawsuit of her own in December 2021. Hardesty is seeking just over $5 million in total. The lawsuit targets the city of Portland, the Portland Police Association and its then-president, Brian Hunzeker. An investigation found Hunzeker admitted to leaking information that falsely indicated Hardesty had been involved in a hit-and-run case. Hunzeker was fired on Feb. 28.