Adams says he can make amends, offer city stability
PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Mayor Sam Adams says he decided to stay in office because he can offer the city some stability and make amends for lying about his sexual relationship with a teenager.
Adams, whose actions are being investigated by Oregon Attorney General John Kroger, announced Jan. 25 that he would not quit over the scandal that has defined his first month on the job. He has been reluctant to talk about his decision, telling reporters he wants to focus on city business.
But in an interview with Out.com, the Web site for gay news magazine Out, Adams explains his decision. "In the end, I can offer at least six to nine months of relative stability by staying, and I can make amends better by staying," he said.
The attorney general declined to discuss the Adams investigation, which began Jan. 21. But it is likely to focus on whether Adams committed third-degree sex abuse in his 2005 relationship with Beau Breedlove. That law makes it a misdemeanor crime to make sexual contact with someone younger than 18.
Adams has denied having any sexual contact with Breedlove before the teen turned 18. But Breedlove, now 21, clouded the issue in a recent interview with The Oregonian, saying he kissed Adams twice before reaching the age of consent.
Most newly elected officials can’t be recalled until six months into their term, a process that would likely push such a vote into late 2009. Even then, it’s unclear that a majority of voters would want Adams removed.
In the interview with Out.com, Adams said he shouldn’t have lied when rumors of the relationship surfaced in 2007.
"Seventeen months of living this lie has been torturous," he said. "To get out from under that is a tremendous amount of relief, combined with a lot of shame."
Rumors that Adams was having sex with a 17-year-old cropped up at the start of a mayoral race that would ultimately make Portland the largest U.S. city to ever elect an openly gay mayor.
Back then, Adams dismissed the rumors as malicious political attacks.
He now says he didn’t think anyone would believe the sexual relationship began when Breedlove was 18. In hindsight, Adams says, he should have told inquiring minds it was none of their business.
"I should have said exactly that. But I certainly didn’t give myself that option," he said. "I made the mistake of thinking no one would believe me. It was like, how do I prove a negative? How do I prove something didn’t happen? So I just panicked, and I made a mistake."
Adams also apologized to the gay community, which found itself divided after the news broke. "I totally understand why they’re angry," he said. "I’ve let them down. I’m very, very sorry for that."
Information from: The Oregonian, http://www.oregonlive.com