Republican State Representative James Hieb, who represents Canby, was arrested at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds after the Canby Rodeo late Wednesday night on suspicion of interfering with a peace officer and disorderly conduct.
Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office John Wildhaber confirmed the arrest and charges to The Canby Current Thursday morning and said Hieb spent the night in the county jail.
He was released on his own recognizance early that morning.
Hieb, who manned the Clackamas County Republicans table at the fairgrounds this week while also appearing at the opening ceremony and other events, said the incident began when a woman outside the Main Pavilion asked him to put out a cigarette while he was waiting for a ride home.
When he continued to smoke, the woman summoned deputies with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, who serve as security for the event.
Hieb, who has admitted to drinking a few beers that night, said he was unaware that smoking is not permitted at the fairgrounds, but he was standing far away from any crowds or other fair-goers.
“That whole area was empty,” he told the Current Friday. “There were zero people in it.”
Hieb, who was wearing a campaign shirt with his name on it, said he disclosed to law enforcement that he was carrying a concealed weapon, for which he has a permit. The officers relieved him of the weapon and put him in cuffs.
Hieb said Friday he believes the incident was blown out of proportion.
“It’s still kind of crazy something so small turned into an arrest,” Hieb said. “I never thought a lady upset about me smoking a cigarette would lead to all this. In hindsight, I didn’t need a cigarette that bad.”
Hieb said his phone, keys and other personal belongings were not initially returned to him on Thursday morning, and he had to walk back to Canby on foot — a distance of almost 10 miles.
Witnesses of the alleged incident claimed the representative was visibly intoxicated, attempted to drive away in someone else’s golf cart and repeatedly told deputies they could not arrest him while handing out business cards to bystanders.
But Hieb has denied those details, blaming them on the “rumor mill.” Wildhaber also said he could not confirm, nor could he share any specifics about the circumstances that led to Hieb’s engagement with deputies and subsequent arrest.
Hieb, who was appointed to replace gubernatorial candidate Christine Drazan in February, said he has received pressure to step down, including from House Republican Leader Vikki Breese-Iverson, as well as an outpouring of support from friends and constituents in the wake of the incident.
Friday morning, he told the Current he does not plan to resign from his position or the current race for House District 51, for which he is the Republican nominee and is favored to win in November.
A statement from Oregon House Republicans Thursday afternoon, as reported by Willamette Week, appeared to chide Hieb for the arrest.
“Today, Leader Vikki Breese-Iverson and Representative James Hieb spoke about his arrest last night in Canby,” the statement said. “Leadership team is disappointed by the events that led to his arrest and do not condone them. Leadership encourages him to focus on his family and to get the assistance he needs.”
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