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Former Oregon governor, Portland mayor Neil Goldschmidt, driven from public life by scandal, dies at 83

Former Oregon governor, Portland mayor Neil Goldschmidt
Former Oregon governor, Portland mayor Neil Goldschmidt

PORTLAND, Ore. (KGW/KTVZ) — Neil Goldschmidt, once mayor of Portland and then Oregon governor, is dead at the age of 83, The Oregonian/OregonLive was first to report Wednesday. KGW reports Goldschmidt's lucrative career in politics came to an abrupt end in the early 2000s, after he admitted to having sex with a minor decades earlier.

An attorney, Goldschmidt's political career began in 1970, when he won election to the Portland City Council. From there he went on to become the city's then-youngest mayor, later serving as U.S Transportation Secretary in 1979 during the Carter administration. He was elected governor of Oregon and served one term before pivoting into a career as a lobbyist and business consultant.

Reporting by Willamette Week's Nigel Jaquiss revealed in 2004 that during Goldschmidt's first term as Portland mayor in the 1970s, he statutorily raped a 14-year-old girl — beginning a period of abuse that lasted for years. By the time this became public information, the statute of limitations for prosecution had long passed.

Goldschmidt admitted to the relationship, although he disputed many of the details. He resigned from the Oregon State Bar and retreated from public life.

The woman who survived that abuse died at the age of 49 in 2011 after a protracted illness, The Associated Press reported. According to longtime Portland journalist Margie Boule, the woman believed Goldschmidt's abuse contributed to her struggles with addiction and mental health issues.

That year, Oregon lawmakers removed Goldschmidt's portrait from the state Capitol. A similar portrait at Portland City Hall was stolen and burned in a 2019 "act of civil disobedience." 

Article Topic Follows: Oregon-Northwest

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