One week after the stunning arrest of State Representative James Hieb, of Canby, at the Clackamas County Fair, on suspicion of disorderly conduct and interfering with a peace officer, the details of the incident remain unclear.
In a probable cause statement released to media this week, a Clackamas County deputy wrote that the Republican official repeatedly refused to present identification and was disturbing passing citizens with his “belligerent” behavior after the Canby Rodeo concluded last Wednesday.
“Mr. Hieb was asked multiple times to present his ID, but he refused to do so,” Deputy Tanner Davis wrote in the August 19 statement. “By refusing to present his ID, he failed to comply with a lawful order and prevented us from issuing him an exclusion notice.
“During this time, the rodeo had just concluded and hundreds of citizens were exiting the fairgrounds. Mr. Hieb was standing in close proximity to one of the exits people were proceeding through, and his belligerent behavior disturbed citizens as they exited the fairgrounds.”
But Hieb told a different story in a nearly 53-minute-long live Instagram interview Tuesday evening with Free Oregon’s Gabe Buehler and Ben Edtl, who is also a State Senate candidate in Tualatin.
Although Hieb admitted to “rude” behavior while smoking a cigarette in a non-smoking area, he maintained he did not break the law and did not deserve to be arrested.
He also said he offered to show identification to the deputies, whom he claimed to have met at the fair earlier that day, but they declined.
“They asked, ‘Do you have your ID,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, it’s here in my pocket. Do you want me to grab it?'” he recounted in the interview. “And they said, ‘No.’ I was like, ‘Are you sure,’ and they were like, ‘Yeah. Just keep your hands out of your pockets.'”
Hieb, who is campaigning to represent Oregon House District 51 in November, was also wearing a shirt with his name on it at the time.
Hieb said the fairgrounds staff member who told him to stop smoking and summoned the deputies who ultimately arrested him had also been among those who demanded he not wear a campaign shirt in the Kiddie Capers Parade the previous day.
(While the parade organizers, Canby Kiwanis, permit current office-holders to participate in the event, the nonprofit strictly prohibits candidates from “hand[ing] out campaign materials, wear[ing] campaign gear, post[ing] campaign signs, or seek[ing] votes in any way.”)
More than once, Edtl and Buehler suggested that Hieb had been “targeted” for his conservative political beliefs, a narrative some of his supporters have promoted in the wake of his arrest.
While Hieb repeatedly sought to take responsibility for his actions, he did allow that he felt the deputies “took it too far.”
“I think they could have written me my exclusion and let me go,” he said. “That’s all it should have ever been. And they would have been totally within their rights to do that because that lady worked for the fair.”
Hieb also admitted to drinking “a couple of beers” at the rodeo and said in the interview he planned to abstain from drinking in the future.
“I’m not going to drink at all anymore, as long as I hold public office,” he said. “It’s going to be one or the other for me because I care more about society than having a beer.”
Hieb became emotional later in the interview as he discussed several tragedies his family has experienced, including the loss of his father and two brothers to suicide and drug abuse.
“I’m not a perfect man, but I care deeply about other Oregonians and I will serve in the best of my capacity for as long as my neighbors and my friends and my team will have me,” Hieb said. “I will do my best to never let anybody down like this again.
“I could have dealt with it better — I really could have — and that’s what I’m called to do. I’m called to hold myself to a higher standard, and I didn’t live up to my own expectations of myself. And for that, I’m sorry. I won’t do it again.”
Hieb said he does not plan to resign from office or from his current campaign as long as the community continues to support him. But he also admitted he has received calls to step down, including from fellow Republicans — something he said he understands.
“People don’t want me to impact them,” he said of fellow candidates for office. “And I get that. I was arrested. It’s not every day that people get arrested.”
The full police report of last week’s incident remains with the Clackamas County District Attorney’s Office, which had not filed charges against Hieb as of Wednesday.
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