January 19 2019
A police report WW obtained today under Oregon's public records law sheds new light on a strange episode involving state Sen. Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg) and a grainy YouTube video that Kruse says was being used in an attempt to extort money from him.
The report says that Oregon State Police learned about the video from Betsy Imholt, the chief of staff to Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem), on Oct. 23.
OSP then contacted Kruse to learn more about the video, which appeared to show him smoking and shirtless in a video chat room.
When Kruse sat down with an Oregon State trooper for an interview Oct. 25, he explained he had been investigating video chatrooms on behalf of constituents.
"Specifically, Sen. Kruse was told people were being targeted by individuals who were trolling on internet dating sites, faking relationships with people and then attempting to bilk money out of them by extortion of some other false statement," Lt. Joshua Brooks wrote.
So Kruse decided to "utilize the Skype and Hangout platforms to communicate with individuals he would get connected to on dating websites," he told the trooper.
"Sen. Kruse told me he undertook an investigation of his own in order to uncover the scope of the problem and work on legislative solutions," Brooks wrote.
Kruse's investigation does not appear to have proceeded smoothly.
"Sen. Kruse described one incident where he received a video of himself with his shirt off that had been edited to remove his trousers and add a male lower half," Brooks' report says. "He said the sender requested he give them money or they were going to send video to his children. Sen. Kruse said that at that point he believed he had sufficient information to get the Department of Justice (DOJ) involved only to learn from them that if the suspects were not in Oregon (or the U.S.) little could be done to apprehend them."
Although Kruse was ultimately unsuccessful in his investigation, he was undaunted.
"[Kruse] told me he engaged in these kinds of conversations upwards of a dozen or more times. He said he got kind of sucked into because of the cleverness of the criminals."
After interviewing Kruse, OSP closed its investigation.
Robin Maxey, a spokesman for Courtney, says the senate president has not spoken to Kruse since Oct. 20, when Courtney stripped Kruse of committee memberships because of sexual harassment allegations. Those suspensions will continue indefinitely, Maxey says, while the allegations are investigated.
Kruse could not immediately be reached for comment.