Jo Ann Hardesty was sued by Bank of America last month for allegedly owing more than $16,000 on two defaulted credit card accounts. She had previously faced a lawsuit from a second creditor over $4,400 in unpaid debt in a case that has since been resolved, The Oregonian reported.
“I understand my personal debt may cause concern since I am one of five commissioners voting on our city budget,” Hardesty told The Oregonian in a statement. “I ask to be judged on my three years as an elected city commissioner.”
Hardesty, who is running for a second term next year, called herself a “budget hawk” when it comes to public matters but that she neglected her personal finances, despite earning more than $125,000 a year.
“I have been an excellent steward of public dollars and that is what Portlanders elected me to do,” she told The Oregonian.
“When I ran for City Council in 2018, like many working people I was reliant on a credit card and built up debt. I live alone, without help, and put all of myself into my work at the City,” Hardesty said in a statement to KGW. “Sometimes that means I neglect to take care of personal matters. I tried to work out a payment plan before with this debt that didn’t work out and intend to pay this off.”
Hardesty reportedly raised more than $500,000 for her city commission campaign.
Hardesty has been an early outspoken advocate of the defund the police movement since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis more than a year ago. Like many U.S. cities, Portland has set a new record for homicides in 2021.
On Monday, she filed a $5 million lawsuit against the Portland Police Association and its former president, a Portland Police Bureau officer, and the city of Portland for their alleged roles in the leak of information that falsely implicated her in a hit-and-run crash.
The Portland City Attorney’s Office signed a $50,000 contract last week with Bullard Law, a Portland-based firm, to defend the city against Hardesty’s claims, Willamette Week reported.