For the past two weeks, a state lawmaker has faced intense scrutiny following his arrest for disorderly conduct at the Clackamas County Fair.
On the night of Aug. 17, state Rep. James Hieb (R-Canby) was intoxicated and belligerent when Clackamas County sheriff’s deputies attempted to eject him from the fairgrounds. (A fair employee had asked him to stop smoking a cigarette.) After a sheriff’s deputy told Hieb he was going to perform a pat-down, the legislator revealed he was carrying a concealed handgun.
WW has learned of a previous encounter Hieb had with the criminal justice system in which he was less than forthright about the weapons he carried and how he used them.
Video shows Hieb at a 2020 clash between right-wing militants and their left-wing adversaries, covering his retreat from downtown Portland with a mist of pepper spray.
Hieb’s actions were captured in a video he gave to defense lawyers in the 2021 trial of Alan Swinney, a former Proud Boy who was sentenced to 10 years in prison after aiming a loaded gun at a crowd and shooting a man in the eye with a paintball gun during the 2020 encounter. Hieb was called as a witness for Swinney’s defense at that trial.
Hieb said he showed up at the downtown event Aug. 22, 2020, as a member of the Young Republicans of Oregon. He said he arrived in the “early afternoon” and met up with a childhood friend. His aim: “to film terrorists.”
Multnomah County prosecutors grilled Hieb about his intentions that day. In cross examination, senior deputy district attorney Nathan Vasquez asked Hieb what he’d brought with him. He responded: “a camera.”
Vasquez pressed him: “That’s all you had?” Hieb then admitted to carrying both a concealed gun and Mace, but denied “withholding” that information from prosecutors.
Hieb said he did not pull out his gun that day. But the video confirms he did use his Mace.
Hieb shot hours of video footage that day, and WW obtained a clip of it from the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office.
Swinney’s attorneys obtained the video from Hieb to use as evidence in their client’s defense, and they used it at trial to show that anti-fascists were using projectiles during the brawl. “There were rocks, pool balls, bouncy balls, and Easter eggs full of poop,” Hieb testified.
But the footage also shows Hieb spraying his Mace canister in the direction of a crowd.
The clip begins with Hieb filming clashes between demonstrators at the corner of Southwest 4th Avenue and Columbia Street. Eventually, Hieb and a group of men in black and yellow shirts, identifying themselves as Proud Boys, retreat down Columbia.
“The wind’s blowing the right direction now,” Hieb says as the group approaches 5th Avenue. As several voices off camera yell, “Fog ‘em!” Hieb whips out his Mace canister. He sprays it in the direction of the crowd, turns and runs.
Hieb did not respond to WW’s request for comment on the incident or his court testimony.
Four months after Hieb testified in September 2021, he was appointed to fill the Oregon House seat left vacant by the resignation of Republican candidate for governor Christine Drazan.
“He should probably resign now,” says former state Rep. Jeff Barker (D-Aloha), a onetime head of the Portland police union who retired from the Legislature last year. “If he doesn’t, he’s going to hurt Republicans’ chances of holding that seat.”
Hieb, 36, is a former Marine who was deployed to Iraq twice as an infantryman. His family runs two businesses: a child care center and a Christmas tree farm, according to a bio on his campaign’s website. In 2022, Hieb ran for office on three issues: hiring more police, school choice, and lowering taxes on small businesses.
Hieb was arrested two weeks ago at the Clackamas County Fair after being asked by a fair employee to put out his cigarette.
“The woman was kind of a Karen,” he told WW.
When Clackamas County sheriff’s deputies arrived, Hieb was wearing a white polo shirt reading, “James Hieb, House District 51″—and he was visibly inebriated. Deputies initially tried to exclude Hieb from the fairgrounds, but he refused to cooperate and was arrested.
Body camera footage taken during their interaction shows Hieb throwing himself to the ground, yelling, “Motherfuckers, go ahead, hurt me!”
“You’re not acting like an adult right now,” one of the arresting officers responded as Hieb writhed on the ground.
Deputies eventually got Hieb into a patrol car and booked him in jail on charges of second-degree disorderly conduct and interfering with a peace officer. In their report, deputies wrote that he was arrested for refusing to comply with police orders and noted that Hieb’s “belligerent behavior disturbed citizens as they exited the fairgrounds.”
Hieb was released the following morning. “It wasn’t the way I saw my evening ending,” he told WW. “I’ve worked so hard to help my community over the years, and it may have just gone up in smoke.”
House Republicans released a statement saying they were “disappointed” and encouraged Hieb to “focus on his family.” A spokesman for their caucus declined to comment after being shown Hieb’s video.
It’s not the first time Hieb has had run-ins with the law. He was charged with a DUII in 2004 and disorderly conduct in 2012, among other offenses. He was found not guilty of the latter charge, telling KOIN TV that it was related to a family drama.
Hieb’s troubles with the law seem to contradict his legislative agenda. In a bio published on the Oregon House website, he claims “public safety is at the top of my list of priorities.”
As of Tuesday, Hieb remained a legislator. His name will appear on the ballot come November.
Nigel Jaquiss contributed reporting to this story.