U.S Rep. Cliff Bentz

U.S. Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, speaking in La Grande, Oregon, in 2022. Bentz represents the 2nd Congressional District, which includes most of eastern and central Oregon, plus parts of the southwestern part of the state. Elected in 2020 and re-elected in 2022, Bentz is a former state lawmaker.

Members of Congress and U.S. senators can be prickly. Some of them respond readily to press inquiries. Others hide from the press. And others engage in combat with reporters, especially in the era of former President Donald Trump, who called us the enemy of the people.

Politics reporter Gary Warner’s recent account in Oregon Capital Insider about how Oregon’s two Republican U.S. House members approached the debt limit vote contained an astounding piece of reporting. Warner noted that while an aide to U.S. Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer was forthcoming on where the congresswoman stands on various aspects of the debt limit question, U.S. Rep Cliff Bentz declined to comment.

Even more startling, Bentz’s aide Knox McCutchen told Warner the congressman required up to 72 hours to respond to any questions involving substantial issues so that he could comment directly instead of through staff.

Among the senators and congressmen whom I covered over 10 years as a Capitol Hill correspondent, I did not encounter a member who needed such advance notice.

My response to Congressman Bentz is what is he afraid of? What is he hiding?

Warner’s employer, EO Media Group, has nine newspapers in Bentz’s sprawling Eastern Oregon district. If there is one news organization that is interested in Bentz’s position on a range of issues, it is ours. Unless Bentz suddenly bursts into national prominence, our newspapers are probably the only news outlets interested in him.

When Bentz announced his House candidacy in 2020, his service in the Oregon Legislature was characterized as intelligent and deliberative. In other words, he was not on the Oregon Republican Party’s fringe. He did not indulge in the antics of the far right.

But on Capitol Hill, the GOP fringe runs the House. Bentz has done a couple of startling things. Among the first things he did was to sign a letter from incoming Republican members to allow the concealed carry of firearms in the U.S. Capitol. On Jan. 6, 2020, he supported the challenge to Pennsylvania’s electoral college vote. He has also signed a brief from Republicans urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a lower court ruling that would make an abortion pill illegal in some states.

Perhaps what Bentz is hiding is his own transformation. In the Oregon Legislature, Bentz was a mainstream guy. Now, he’s becoming something else. And while Bentz is throwing up barriers against Oregon-based reporters, he’s on national websites frequently.

Bentz is trapped in a Republican House that is about grievance, Trump and performance politics in the manner of Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, Lauren Boebert and George Santos. Political courage in the manner of Liz Cheney or Adam Kinzinger is not welcome.

In politics and in life, fortune does not change men and women. It reveals them. Congressman Bentz’s fortune is having a subcommittee chairmanship in his sophomore term. What will he do with that platform? It is the House Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife and Fisheries. Thus far, Bentz has supported the GOP House drive to weaken provisions of the Endangered Species Act.

The nitrate contamination of groundwater in Morrow County is a very big deal and should be in Bentz’s wheelhouse. If Bentz took up the cause of his constituents who are afflicted with contaminated water, he would not likely gain esteem from the crowd that runs the House. But he could make some history in Oregon

Steve Forrester, the former editor and publisher of The Astorian, is the president and CEO of EO Media Group. EO Media Group is a partner in the Oregon Capital Bureau.

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(3) comments


Why am I not surprised? Every time I have written a letter to Rep. Cliff Bentz the replies are either him choosing the right side on an issue and stating more far right leaning answers rather than seeing the bigger picture on these issues or he dances around actually giving any answer at all, and essentially writes a string of nonsense that contains no answers at all within it. Truly frustrating when one simply wants their Representative to listen and to give straightforward answers to important issues that will have a serious effect on our future.


I have never had Bentz flat out lye to me in a answer back from my letters but that is not true for our Democrat Representatives They always lye in their responds and give me nonsense answers to my questions and comments. Offed they answer in such a way as to make it look like I agree with their stance on a issue when in fact I do not !!! I would much rather have my Rep actually read my letter and answer me rather then getting a can response from one of his aids.



Just like our Oregon Criminal Officials such Gov. Brown, Rep. Nathanson, etc. etc.. with the help of Wells Fargo. who are covering up for the most criminal Official: Late Frohnmayer, late Rep. Bob Ackerman who stole my Fully paid Condo!

My social Security # is BLOCKED at the Employment office, for more than Three years NOW. I can't sign in to look for a job! This had happened after my name was cleared from the fabricated criminal record that was done by the criminal late Dave Frohnmayer!

Gov.Kate Brown Appointed 100 Judges.She made sure before she leaves, she appointed TWO more Judges to cover her back!

Arrest Gov. Brown, Rep. Nathanson & the Rest of Oregon Criminal Officials who are complicit with the Most Criminal Officials late Frohnmayer, late Rep. Ackerman!

OR. late A.G. Frohnmayer had deleted all records in L.C. It shows I'd changed my name to Nadia Sindi.Left old name Faika Sindi.Changed letters to Saika Findi! Frohnmayer has trapped me in a criminal record since 1987!





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