Oregon candidate Amanda La Bell bows out over false claims about university degree: reports

An American Working Families Party candidate quit an Oregon state legislative race Wednesday amid false claims about her university degree, according to reports.

Amanda La Bell, 41, dropped out of the race for House District 54 in Bend, Ore., the Oregonian reported, citing an announcement from the party.

Her departure gives a boost to Republicans' hopes of keeping the House District 54 seat, the Oregonian reported.

“We are sorry that Bend voters will no longer have an opportunity to vote for a State Representative who can effectively fight for issues impacting Oregon’s working families,” the party's statement said.

The Bend Bulletin had reported Tuesday that La Bell falsely claimed on her official Voters Pamphlet statement to have earned a bachelor's degree from Valdosta State University in Georgia, calling into question her candidacy's legitimacy.

La Bell clarified her education to the Bulletin.

“Regarding my college education, I attended Gulf Coast Community College for two years then transferred to Valdosta State University in the pursuit of my Bachelors of Arts in Music,” La Bell said. “However, after one semester at Valdosta State University, I had to withdraw and enter the workforce. Through the years I tried to re-enter college but, like many working families, I faced significant barriers to completing my degree.”

She said the claim about her education was "due to an oversight during the rapid launch of my campaign."

“Unfortunately, I did not catch this until it was too late to correct," she told the paper, adding that she takes "complete responsibility for the mistake."

La Bell also penned an open letter to Bend community, espressing her "profound apologies" and saying "for years, I felt a deep sense of guilt and shame at not being able to achieve the milestone of a college degree."

She wrote that her barriers included balancing work, school, financial pressures and caring for her family, revealing that she also suffered domestic violence.

Democrats had turned to La Bell in hopes of winning a three-fifths supermajority in the state's House, amid sexual misconduct allegations against their candidate, Nathan Boddie, according to the Oregonian.

Boddie, a Bend city councilor, had denied the allegations and also refused to allow Democrats to replace him with another candidate, the report said.

Nathan Boddie, a Bend city councilor, is the Democratic candidate for the state legislative race.

Nathan Boddie, a Bend city councilor, is the Democratic candidate for the state legislative race. (City of Bend)

Democrats would need one more seat in the Oregon House to win the supermajority that would allow the party to pass tax bills without GOP votes, the Oregonian reported.

The Secretary of State's Office said it was too late to withdraw La Bell's Voters Pamphlet statement, the Bend Bulletin reported.

It was also too late for the American Working Families Party to replace La Bell with another candidate or remove her name from the ballot for Nov. 6, according to the Oregonian.

“We are supportive of Amanda in putting the needs of her community first by suspending her campaign," the Working Families Party statement read, according to Oregon's KTVZ-TV.

"We are supportive of Amanda in putting the needs of her community first by suspending her campaign."

— Statement from The American Working Families Party

"We are so grateful to the Bend residents who trusted us with this effort, and, above all, we are unwavering in our commitment to fighting hand-in-hand with the community for a Bend that works for all of us.”

Republican Knute Buehler, running for governor, left the Bend House seat open.

The GOP candidate is Cheri Helt, a restaurateur and Bend-La Pine School Board member, the Bulletin reported.

Cheri Helt is the GOP candidate for House District 54 in Oregon.

Cheri Helt is the GOP candidate for House District 54 in Oregon. (Facebook)

Bend is about a three-hour drive southeast of Portland, Ore.