Director of Cherriots faces state ethics probe into travel rewards

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The top Salem transit official is facing a state ethics investigation into his use of hotel and airline rewards on official business trips.

The Oregon government ethics commission voted unanimously at a Sept. 23 meeting to conduct a full investigation of Allan Pollock, chief executive of the Salem Area Transit District, also known as the Cherriots.

The commission began investigating Pollock after a Cherriots employee filed a complaint in July saying Pollock was accumulating rewards points in personal hotel and airline accounts when Cherriots issued a credit card to book a taxpayer-funded trip. Pollock has been managing director of Cherriots since 2007.

Allan Pollock, Managing Director of Cherriots (Official Photo)

An initial commission staff report, dated Sept. 14, found that Cherriots did not have a policy regarding staff use of personal rewards accounts while on business trips, and determined that it had may have violated a state law that officials cannot use their positions for financial gain. .

In response to the complaint, Pollock’s attorney Bob Steringer provided the commission with a list of points earned on personal accounts with Marriott, Hyatt, Best Western and several airlines from September 2018 to June 2022, estimating the value rewards earned at $760.20.

Steringer noted that Pollock did not redeem any accrued rewards for actual profit, except for some Marriott points.

“Because the points he accrued through his travels as a public official were combined with his personal reward points, Mr. Pollock is unable to determine whether the points he accumulated in the course of his journey as a public official were among those exchanged,” Steringer wrote.

Steringer argued that the commission should dismiss the complaint and reach an agreement with Pollock to resolve the issue.

“Mr. Pollock will cease the offending practice and take all possible steps to ensure that points and miles are not redeemed. For example, Mr. Pollock would donate points/miles as permitted by most, if not all, It is not clear if the Hyatt program allows donations, but Mr. Pollock could give an equivalent value of points in any of the other programs,” Steringer wrote in his response.

He argued at the Sept. 23 meeting that the commission’s educational role had been fulfilled and that Cherriots staff were working on a policy to clarify that employees should not accrue personal travel rewards while on vacation. in agency.

“He now understands the concerns it raises,” Steringer said of Pollock. Pollock did not speak at the meeting except to offer to answer questions from the ethics commissioners.

David Fiskum, the committee’s chairman, told Steringer that the committee “appreciated the candor of your remarks today. The tone, character and content of these were very helpful to us.

“We have not concluded that there was a breach. We agreed today to continue the investigation,” Fiskum said.

Pollock referred Salem Reporter’s questions about the investigation to Steringer.

Steringer told the Salem Reporter that Cherriots staff are working on a policy to address the use of personal rewards points during transit travel, but it has not yet been finalized.

He said Pollock has not yet donated any rewards or miles accrued from his travels for Cherriots “because we want to make sure we do it in a way that satisfies the Commission.”

Contact journalist Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

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