PORTLAND, Ore. — Four Portland newspapers and the city police union are calling on the mayor to resign, after he admitted he lied by denying he had a sexual relationship with a teenage boy.
Mayor Sam Adams admitted this week that he lied to cover up his relationship with a teenage legislative intern because a potential mayoral candidate had spread rumors that Adams had sex with a minor.
Adams, 45, said the teen was 17 when they met in 2005, and that the relationship did not turn sexual until the boy turned 18. He said he lied because he was afraid voters wouldn’t believe that his young lover had turned 18 before they started having sex.
Adams became mayor on New Year’s Day, making Portland the largest U.S. city with an openly gay mayor.
As newspapers called for him to step down, Oregon Attorney General John Kroger agreed to investigate whether a crime was committed.
Adams held a news conference Tuesday and was in seclusion Wednesday.
The publisher and editorial board of Just Out, a newspaper serves the gay and lesbian community, said in a statement that “Adams has failed to show the principled character that this publication feels is a basic requirement for an elected official.”
The other papers calling on Adams to step down are the The Oregonian, The Portland Tribune and the Portland Business Journal.
Meanwhile, questions emerged about the mayor’s hiring of a reporter from an alternate weekly, the Portland Mercury. The report, Amy Ruiz, had confronted Adams about the relationship with the teen in early 2008.
She dropped the story and was added to Adams’ staff as a planning and sustainability policy adviser, an area in which she lacked experience.
On Tuesday, Adams denied hiring Ruiz because of her investigation. He said he left all hiring work to his chief of staff, Tom Miller, and that he didn’t know she had applied until she showed up for an interview.
City commissioner Nick Fish said the commissioners met Wednesday and joined the request for an investigation by the attorney general. They decided to withhold comment until that investigation was completed.
“This is clearly a distraction, but people need to know we are getting work done,” Fish said.
Unless Adams bows to pressure and resigns or there is evidence of a crime, he will remain in office for the first half of 2009 because state law bars any mayoral recall until after six months.