FBI investigating state senator


The FBI is investigating State Sen. Betsy Johnson, the Scappoose Democrat who acknowledged last year that she violated state ethics law by failing to disclose that she owned land next to the airport in her home city.

The Oregonian newspaper reported in its Wednesday editions that three sources confirmed they had been interviewed by the FBI regarding Johnson.

Johnson's lawyer, Stephen Houze, confirmed the investigation, but offered no specifics about the matter. "Because it is a pending investigation, neither she nor I intend to comment on the merits," he said in a prepared statement.

Peter Williamson, the former executive director of the Port of St. Helens, acknowledged that he was interviewed by the FBI, but declined to say what kind of questions were asked.

The other sources, who were granted anonymity, said the FBI wanted to know about Johnson's involvement in development around the Scappoose airport.

Johnson has long advocated commercial and industrial development around the airport, which is run by the Port of St. Helens. She fought to stop gravel mining around the airport, and also founded the company that is now known as Transwestern Aviation, a fuel stop at the airport that records show is owned by her husband, John Helm.

In 2004, Johnson and her husband bought a 36-acre parcel adjacent to the airport and then sold the land three months later to a developer, Ed Freeman, for $119,000 more than they had paid for it.

In September, Johnson settled an Oregon Ethics Commission investigation by acknowledging she failed to report her purchase and sale of the property. She paid a $600 fine.

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