PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Republican State Representative James Hieb will not face charges for smoking at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds and a confrontation with deputies that landed him in jail.
According to a memo obtained by KOIN 6 News, the Clackamas County district attorney is declining to pursue charges based on a lack of evidence and a recent change in Oregon law. Authorities had released body camera footage showing sheriff’s deputies and Hieb at the fair on Aug. 17.
“It ended with Mr. Hieb asking to be arrested and throwing himself on the ground,” Deputy District Attorney Bryan Brock wrote in the memo. “Mr. Hieb’s request was granted and he was taken to the jail.”
The sheriff’s office recommended charges of second-degree disorderly conduct, interfering with a peace officer and second-degree criminal trespass.
Brock concluded prosecutors could not prove the criminal trespass allegation because a member of the fair board who told Hieb to stop smoking did not tell him to leave the fairgrounds. Neither did fairgrounds security.
The district attorney also determined Hieb’s behavior did not rise to the level of creating a disturbance to qualify for disorderly conduct. Hieb’s arrest may have attracted attention from people at the fair, but Brock stated it’s “equally likely that they were reacting to law enforcement presence as much as Mr. Hieb.”
Deputies also said Hieb refused to show them his identification, but Brock noted that is no longer the crime of Interfering with an Officer, after the Oregon Legislature changed the law in 2021.
“His only interference was his refusal to ID himself which is the type of passive resistance allowed under the law,” Brock wrote.
Hieb was appointed to Oregon House District 39 after being selected by Clackamas and Marion county commissioners to replace Republican Christine Drazan after she stepped down to pursue a gubernatorial run.
Hieb sent a statement to KOIN 6 News on Friday afternoon, in which he apologized for his actions at the fair. Read his full statement below:
“My behavior at the Clackamas County Fair on August 16th was unacceptable. I not only embarrassed myself and disrespected my family, the Clackamas County Commissioners, the Sheriff’s Deputies, Fair Staff, Volunteers and Patrons, but most importantly, I let down my constituents and their families of District 39, whom I represent. To all of you, I am truly sorry for my behavior and insolent attitude; it will not happen again. I recognize that alcohol was the main contributing factor in my bad choices that evening and I will continue to address this for myself and my family. I will learn from this and grow into a better person and legislator. Over time I will work to earn your forgiveness and gain back the trust of my constituents, law enforcement, colleagues and peers.
Body camera footage shows Hieb, whose face was blurred in the released footage, wearing a white polo with his name emblazoned on it. Sheriff’s deputies’ body cameras were rolling without audio turned on as they approached Hieb, who was smoking a cigarette and then put it out.
The audio for the cameras is switched on shortly after they approach him, with one deputy explaining he had to stop smoking and acknowledged Hieb had by gesturing, but then told Hieb that he had been asked to leave, with Hieb saying “No, no.”
“Is that not what happened?” the deputy asked in the body camera footage.
“It depends on which fair employees,” Hieb eventually said.
The deputy then says Hieb is running for office, which Hieb acknowledges in the video.
“You don’t want this noise,” the deputy said.
Hieb’s reply is incoherent in the video. The affidavit in Hieb’s arrest, which was released in August, remarked that “his belligerent behavior disturbed citizens as they exited the fairgrounds.”
Just days after Rep. Hieb was arrested at the county fair, he sat down with Ben Edtl, a Senate District 19 Republican candidate and leader of the group “Free Oregon,” to discuss what happened that night when he was approached by sheriff’s deputies.
“They asked, ‘Hey, do you have your ID?’ recalled Hieb on a video posted to Instagram. “I said, ‘yeah, it’s in my pocket, do you want me to grab it?’ and they said, ‘no.'”
However, the body camera footage released to KOIN 6 tells a different story.
“Do you have ID on you by chance?” a deputy asked Hieb during the camera recording, with Hieb replying, “yeah.”
“Can I see that?” the deputy then asked while Hieb replied, “No, no I can’t show you my ID.”
In a statement issued after the video was released, Edlt said after reviewing the footage of the arrest, “it’s obvious” that Hieb’s recollection was innacurrate.
“I have my own experience with alcoholism and addiction and I know, first-hand, the pain and tragedy of this disease,” Edtl’s statement read. “While I can no longer support James Hieb as a state representative, I will absolutely support him as a friend.”
While talking with Edtl and Free Oregon’s Gabriel Buehler in August, Hieb also responded to calls for him to step down, where he said he didn’t plan on resigning. Body camera video showed Hieb slurring his words and arguing with sheriff’s deputies.
This week when asked about his drinking, Hieb went on to say he would now refrain from alcohol while serving in the state House.
“As long as I hold public office, I’m not going to drink at all,” Hieb said during the Instagram recording.
The body camera video also shows Hieb mentioned being at the fair with Clackamas County Commission Chair Tootie Smith.
“Are you here with anyone, do you have family, friends, anyone from your party?” a deputy asked Hieb in the video.
“Yeah, a lady named Tootie Smith,” Hieb replied.
However, in a statement to KOIN 6 News, Smith denied Hieb’s claim.
“I am appalled by the behavior of Representative James Hieb that led to his arrest at the Clackamas County Fair. In the body camera footage of his arrest, Hieb stated that I was with him at the Clackamas County Fair. This is an outright lie.” Smith said. “I was not at the fair on the day of Hieb’s arrest and I do not personally know Hieb. My interaction with Hieb is only limited to the day the Board of County Commissioners appointed him to District 51 in early 2022. Hieb’s belligerent behavior is unacceptable and an embarrassment.”