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State Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, D-Gresham, is proud of her registered nursing credentials. She mentions it in campaign mailers, on her campaign website, on her legislative web page and in her official state Voters’ Guide statement, where she lists her occupation as "Registered Nurse and Senator."
Monnes Anderson is defending her seat in District 25 against Republican Scott Hansen, also a resident of Gresham, but a dentist, not a registered nurse. The Leadership Fund, which is the campaigning arm of minority Senate Republicans and would love to pick up the seat, sent a press release this week to media with this bombshell: Monnes Anderson is not a registered nurse, as she claims.
"Allowing her Registered Nurse's License to expire in 2009 is tragic," said Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day, in the release. "Claiming the nurse's credential in the primary 2012 election may be excused as an oversight, but repeating the claim in the 2012 general election seems part of the pattern of disconnect typical of someone who has been in Salem too long. Voters in District 25 deserve better."
Well, we don’t know what voters deserve, but we had to check this out for ourselves. Did Monnes Anderson, in fact, let her license lapse in 2009? And if so, does that negate her ability to call herself a registered nurse?
We looked up Laurel Anderson in the nursing board’s online database, verified that her two-year license had expired in December 2009, and put in a call to the board to learn more about nursing licenses.
Barbara Holtry, who handles press questions for the Oregon State Board of Nursing, explained that to get a license as a registered nurse, a person must meet education, examination, practice and English language requirements, and complete a background check. Licenses are good for two years. Renewal notices are sent about 6-8 weeks before the license expires.
But here’s the critical takeaway from our conversation with Holtry. "The bottom line is: You need to have a license to be a registered nurse in the state of Oregon," Holtry said.
Apparently, Monnes Anderson thought she was in compliance the entire time, until PolitiFact Oregon contacted Senate Democrats on Thursday to inquire. In an interview with us on Friday, she said she was in the process of preparing paperwork to submit to the board with her licensing application. Monnes Anderson, 66, is a retired public health nurse.
"I truly believed that my license was current from 2009 on, and I’ve always gotten reminders to renew and when I get reminders I always renew," she said. (At this point, she will need to apply to reactivate her license. Renewals are allowed within 60 days of expiration.)
We understand that people forget to renew their professional licenses, although it’s hard for us to fathom someone forgetting for three years.
Monnes Anderson is not a registered nurse, per the Oregon State Board of Nursing. She was a registered nurse from July 1985 to December 2009 but cannot claim to have been one at the time she submitted Voters’ Guide statements for the primary election in May or for the general election in November.
We rate the statement False, and note that her GOP opponent, Hansen, has an up-to-date professional license.
The Leadership Fund (Senate Republicans) press release, "Monnes-Anderson decisions question competence," Oct. 3, 2012
Emails from Tom Powers, executive director Senate Democratic Leadership Fund (Senate Democrats), Oct. 4, 2012
Interview with Michael Gay, spokesman, Leadership Fund, Oct. 5, 2012
Interview with Barbara Holtry, spokeswoman, Oregon State Board of Nursing, Oct. 5, 2012
Interview with Laurie Monnes Anderson, Oct. 5, 2012
Secretary of State Elections Division, Voters’ Guide, 2012 May and November elections
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