Former gubernatorial candidate accused of blackmailing undocumented workers

WiG

A man alleges in federal court that a former conservative candidate for governor in Oregon put his undocumented family to forced labor by threatening deportation.

Two years ago, in his failed campaign for governor, Republican William Ames Curtright released his “illegal immigration plan,” saying, “We need to aggressively address the issue of illegal immigration that is taking a toll on state services.”

Curtright proposed requiring all businesses that work with the state to verify worker’s immigration status, create stronger penalties for those possessing fake ID cards, verifying the citizenship of everyone appearing in a state court, requiring identification for state and local services, withholding funds to cities that “participate in the sanctuary policy for illegal immigrants.”

Now Curtright faces a federal lawsuit that says he blackmailed an undocumented immigrant family into working for him.

The suit filed by Trinidad Zavala names Curtright and his company, Ames Research Laboratories, as defendants.

Zavala claims Curtright hired him knowing he was undocumented but then fired him during his campaign for fear of exposure. Curtright then allegedly rehired Zavala and his family to take care of his mother, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, for less than minimum wage.

The complaint, reported on by Courthouse News Service, says, “Not wanting to pay for care of his mother, under threats of deportation, Curtright forced plaintiff and his family to care for Curtright’s mother 24 hours a day in their home.

“Curtright forced plaintiff to move his youngest child out of his bedroom to sleep on the living room floor so that the child’s room could be used for the care of Ms. Theiman.”

The complaint also states, “Curtright made it clear that he was politically connected, had been a candidate for governor and had friends who would deport plaintiff and his family.”

Curtright lost a 2010 primary race for the gubernatorial nomination in Oregon. The top contributor to his campaign was his company. He personally was the No. 2 contributor.