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Wester Chadric Cooley

Republican, Oregon (1995-1996)

The Honorable Wes Cooley has had a few bumpy encounters with the truth in his short legislative career.  Trouble is, he lost every one of them. 

Cooley, a state senator from Powell Butte, was elected to Congress during the big 1994 conservative tidal wave that put Republicans in the majority.  A tough conservative, Cooley stood up for western property rights, but soon got himself into trouble.

According to the Portland Oregonian, Cooley

  • Lied about his residency in central Oregon

  • Lied about his marriage (allegedly so that she could fraudulently continue to collect benefits as the widow of a Marine).

  • Lied about having been elected to Phi Beta Kappa (Cooley said he confused PBK with another college society)

  • Lied about having a law degree. 

Then, he lied one too many times.  On an official Oregon Voters Pamphlet, Cooley noted in his biography that he had served with the Army in the Korean War.  He said in the official pamphlet, "Army, Special Forces, Korea."  But that was news to the Army. And lying on an official voter pamphlet is also a felony in Oregon.

Following a plea agreement, Cooley was found guilty and required to perform 100 hours of community service and pay $7,100 in fines and prosecution costs. 

Still, Cooley insisted he'd served in the Korean War; that he'd been a demolitions expert sent to Korea for a few days on a secret mission.  But his sergeant, who Cooley insisted was dead by now, had evidence to the contrary.  "I think there is some confusion here," Cooley said.  "I would like to be able to talk to the sergeant myself and see if we can't straighten out some of the confusion.  It's been 42 years."

The Oregonian quoted former Master Sergeant Clifford Lee Poppy as saying he and Cooley never served together in Korea.  "Tell him he's a liar.  Tell him Sgt. Poppy said that," said Poppy, alive and well in Phoenix.  [For other pearls of wisdom, check the Quote Board].

The Medford, Oregon, Daily Mail reported that Army records showed Cooley did not finish training at Fort Bragg, N. C., until almost a month after the war had ended and that he had never left the U.S.

Cooley's Excuse:  "I don't admit I made a false statement . . . A lot of people get convicted who don't do anything wrong." (Click here for other examples of "Lyin' Through Their Teeth").

How about the first wife?  She said that Cooley once boasted that he was a government "hit man" who killed people with piano wire.  "But that's Wester," she said.  "He can't stop exaggerating to make himself look more than he really is."  [Click here for other observations by family and wives on other BadBoys].

Cooley dropped out of a fruitless bid for re-election.  But then, after his conviction, he decided to run again.  He finished third out of four candidates in the Republican primary.

But wait, there's more!

In 2005, Cooley was convicted in St. Louis in a civil case of bilking investors of more than $2 million in a Internet auction company scheme. He and an associate were ordered to pay more than $2.1 million to 11 people who were fraudulently enticed to buy shares in an Internet firm.  During the trial, Cooley claimed that he had suffered a series of strokes the year before and it left him unable to remember anything for the past 15 years.  The investors' lawyer wasn't buying it:  "We don't doubt he's had some medical problems, but I thought from the time I took his deposition (in June 2004) that he was faking."

The federal jury wasn't buying it either.

Now Please Explain This:  Cooley is the only Congressman ever convicted of lying to voters.  The Only Congressman???

Sources:  Ed Walsh, "Wes Cooley Told to Pay Investors in Fraud Case," Oregonian, February 4, 2005, B1;  "Wes Cooley Resurfaces," Oregonian, February 5, 2005;  AP, "Ex-Sergeant Accuses Congressman of Lying," New Orleans Times-Picayune, June 16, 1996, A19;    Leslie Philips, "Congressman's Past Questioned Oregon Investigates Discrepancies," USA Today, May 1, 1996, 6A;