I would like to assure Mr. Warner Wasley that my letter published in the Jan. 12 edition of this newspaper was voluntarily submitted by me and was in no way solicited or requested by this fine publication, as I’m confident is also true of the others published that same day.

Mr. Wasley’s personal belief that Rep. Cliff Bentz is “a person of impeccable integrity” is neither evidence The Observer holds a bias against him nor does it shield him from civil criticism for his actions. If Mr. Wasley feels that public outrage against the tacit approval of sedition is just intimidation and harassment of those following a conservative path, I suggest he reexamine where this path has led.

Mr. Wasley characterizes the letters of that day as “hateful,” but I ask that anyone reading my previous letter or this one not mistake my utter disgust and contempt for the actions of Mr. Bentz as hatred. My deep sense of patriotism for this country was offended like never before by the events at our nation’s Capitol on Jan. 6 undertaken by a group singularly motivated with a monumental lie. This grandiose fiction perpetuated by far too many political and media figures presented a terribly striking example of what Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes analogized as “falsely shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre.” The tragically predictable consequences of lending credence to this lie had hardly even sunk into our collective consciousness when Mr. Bentz and too many of his colleagues chose to reiterate the impotent cry suggesting there was still smoke in that proverbial theatre.

While Mr. Wasley is unfortunately correct that perhaps a majority of Mr. Bentz’s constituents wish to believe this falsehood even in the absolute vacuum of any evidence supporting it, Mr. Bentz did not swear an oath to take whatever course his voters might prefer. He swore an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Those who attempted to wrest control of the U.S. government that day did so with the explicit intention to subvert the Constitution, with the grand lie as their justification. Giving sustenance to that lie could and did only serve to aid and abet those who had just hours before violently proven their intent of insurrection.

In case, Mr. Wasley feels I have unfairly attacked Rep. Bentz in these letters, four days prior to the publication of my first letter I left a message with Mr. Bentz’s office, offering him a chance to discuss this issue. It’s been two weeks, and I’ve yet to hear from him, so I ask that anyone who knows Mr. Bentz please pass along that I welcome the opportunity to hear his defense against my concerns with his representation either in these pages or any other public forum.


Roger Barnes has lived and worked and sometimes voiced his opinions in La Grande for 25 years. He welcomes your comments and criticisms.

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(1) comment


Thanks for this excellent rebuttal, Roger. I had a similar experience to yours in that I contacted Bentz via his website in advance of his effort to throw away all of the votes from Pennsylvania. My request to be contacted was ignored, and I didn't even get an auto-response.

I do take issue with the headline that The Observer wrote for your rebuttal. This issue has everything to do with Bentz's integrity. His explanation for disenfranchising millions of votes was laughably disingenuous. Bentz is an attorney and knows better. So I don't think that he's stupid, but that means that he is dishonest and is supporting a traitorous cause.

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