Portland commissioner defends herself as ‘budget hawk’ after second creditor sues her over personal debt
'I have been an excellent steward of public dollars,' Jo Ann Hardesty told The Oregonian
A Portland, Oregon, city commissioner who is tasked with voting on the city’s budget defended herself as an "excellent steward of public dollars" amid concerns over her personal credit card debt.
Jo Ann Hardesty was sued by Bank of America last month for allegedly owing more than $16,000 on two defaulted credit card accounts. She had previously faced a lawsuit from a second creditor over $4,400 in unpaid debt in a case that has since been resolved, The Oregonian reported.
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"I understand my personal debt may cause concern since I am one of five commissioners voting on our city budget," Hardesty told The Oregonian in a statement. "I ask to be judged on my three years as an elected city commissioner."
Hardesty, who is running for a second term next year, called herself a "budget hawk" when it comes to public matters but that she neglected her personal finances, despite earning more than $125,000 a year.
"I have been an excellent steward of public dollars and that is what Portlanders elected me to do," she told The Oregonian.
"When I ran for City Council in 2018, like many working people I was reliant on a credit card and built up debt. I live alone, without help, and put all of myself into my work at the City," Hardesty said in a statement to KGW. "Sometimes that means I neglect to take care of personal matters. I tried to work out a payment plan before with this debt that didn’t work out and intend to pay this off."
Hardesty reportedly raised more than $500,000 for her city commission campaign.
Hardesty has been an early outspoken advocate of the defund the police movement since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis more than a year ago. Like many U.S. cities, Portland has set a new record for homicides in 2021.
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On Monday, she filed a $5 million lawsuit against the Portland Police Association and its former president, a Portland Police Bureau officer, and the city of Portland for their alleged roles in the leak of information that falsely implicated her in a hit-and-run crash.
The Portland City Attorney’s Office signed a $50,000 contract last week with Bullard Law, a Portland-based firm, to defend the city against Hardesty’s claims, Willamette Week reported.