An influential lobbyist and former top Democratic state lawmaker was recently arrested for soliciting prostitution as part of an undercover police sting operation against human sex traffickers.
Dave Hunt, who previously served as both the Democratic majority leader as well as speaker of the House in the Oregon state legislature, has been charged by the Portland Police Bureau with the crime of commercial sexual solicitation, a misdemeanor offense, the Associated Press reported.
Since leaving elected office in 2013, Hunt became a powerful lobbyist in the state and a member of the Clackamas Community College board — a position for which he was running unopposed for reelection but has since taken a leave of absence.
Soliciting prostitution from undercover officer
The Portland Police Bureau first reported Hunt’s arrest in a press release regarding the results of an undercover sting operation mounted in April by the bureau’s Human Trafficking Unit, which had arrested and charged eight men total.
The operation involved the posting of decoy ads on websites suspected of facilitating human trafficking and then arresting those who made contact with an undercover officer to arrange payment for sex.
The release did not publicize the names of those arrested but did note that a list would be furnished to anyone who contacted the bureau’s public information office. The Portland Tribune made the request and discovered that Hunt was included among those who had been arrested and charged.
A copy of the police report obtained by the Tribune further confirmed Hunt’s full name, date of birth, and home address and also revealed that the former legislator turned lobbyist had been arrested and cited on April 28 after being caught at a Southeast Portland Ramada Inn.
Contacted for comment Monday by the Tribune, Hunt reportedly replied, “I don’t think I should talk about that.”
Hunt’s attorney, Michael De Munis, later released a statement and said, “Mr. Hunt denies the allegations, but respects the criminal justice process and will refrain from saying more until he has his opportunity in court.”
Hunt, who lives in the town of Milwaukie in Clackamas County, served in the state legislature for a decade and spent a term as House majority leader prior to becoming Speaker of the House from 2009 to 2011, The Oregonian reported.
Following his decade as a lawmaker, Hunt became a lobbyist who reportedly has around a dozen major clients, including, according to The Oregonian and state records, “the Northwest Grocery Association, the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association and Oregon AFSCME 75,” among others.
Clackamas Community College has already sought to distance itself from Hunt by immediately announcing that he had taken a leave of absence from its board. It remains to be seen if the powerful interest groups in the state that relied upon Hunt for his influential lobbying will do the same now that he is in legal trouble.