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Buehler had no plan to attend Kruse goodbye bash

Rep. Knute Buehler was named on an invitation for a party honoring disgraced Sen. Jeff Kruse.

COURTESY PHOTO - Rep. Knute Buehler, GOP candidate for governorRep. Knute Buehler, GOP candidate for governor, had not planned to attend the controversial farewell party to honor disgraced former state Sen. Jeff Kruse and other departing Republican legislators.

OREGON LEGISLATURE - Former Sen. Jeff Kruse, R-RoseburgKruse resigned in February after an independent investigation found that Kruse had subjected multiple female lawmakers, staffers and interns to unwanted touching and had ignored requests and warnings to stop.

Oregon Public Broadcasting first reported Wednesday, Sept. 19, that Chris Barreto, wife of Rep. Greg Barreto, has invited Kruse to the Sept. 23 party at the couple's Keizer home.

She later told an OPB reporter that she had canceled the event.

TWITTER - Oregon Sen. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, confronts Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, on Twitter over an invitation to a farewell party honoring disgraced former Sen. Jeff Kruse and other departing Republican lawmakers.Her decision followed pushback from a state Sen. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, who tweeted out that the event was "a slap in the face to those who spoke to (the) investigator and (a) clear sign that harassment is accepted by too many legislators."

The investigation was prompted by two public complaints by Gelser and Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, D-Beaverton. The senators sought his expulsion from the Senate after a confidential, informal complaint process in 2016 failed to change his behavior.

The party invitation featured the names of 12 Republican lawmakers who have recently resigned from the Oregon Legislature or do not plan to seek reelection to their legislative seat. The group of names included that of Buehler, who decided not to run for reelection so that he could pursue election to the Governor's Office.

Buehler was the first Republican lawmaker to publicly call on Kruse to resign from office earlier this year.

That prompted Gelser to tweet: "@KnuteBuehler are you really going to be a part of this?"

Jordan Conger, Buehler's chief of staff, wrote in an email to Oregon Capital Insider Thursday, Sept. 20, that the campaign had not been involved in the planning of the event and that Buehler had no plans to attend, because he had a previous commitment that evening.

"However, he was one of the first legislators to call on Sen. Kruse to resign and believes that type of behavior has no place in the Legislature or anywhere else," Conger wrote.