No active investigation found against Max Koltuv

Nov. 4—LA GRANDE — Aggressor or target? That is the question surrounding La Grande City Council candidate Cody Vela's online interactions.

Vela made claims in October that there was a pending investigation of Max Koltuv, a member of the city's budget committee — but as of Friday, Nov. 4, The Observer found no active law enforcement cases against Koltuv. The pair have a history of online disagreements on Facebook, according to both parties.

"Cody Vela's assertion that I am harassing him is ridiculous and has no basis in fact or evidence, as any investigation will show," Koltuv said.

Vela is running for city council Position 7 against Corrine Dutto, who previously served on the council. On Oct. 15, Vela said there was a "current, active criminal investigation" against Koltuv. There is nothing currently on file in Oregon's court records database — which includes civil, small claims, tax, domestic and criminal cases — in regard to Koltuv and Vela.

Sheriff Cody Bowen said that if there was anything against Koltuv it would most likely be a city case due to jurisdiction. The La Grande Police Department does not have an active investigation open on Koltuv for harassment, according to Lt. Jason Hays.

Vela accused Koltuv of signing up Vela's campaign email address to receive spam email and far-left political subscriptions, as well as phone calls and texting spam. He referred to Koltuv as an "internet troll" — a person who posts inflammatory messages online. Vela declined to say anything more about the matter when contacted for additional comments on Nov. 3.

Koltuv said Vela has made physical threats against him during their online discourse. He also said the candidate sent him a message on Facebook questioning his work on the budget committee and asking why Koltuv should be allowed to remain a member of the committee if Vela is elected to the city council.

"He is attempting to punish me for questioning his policy ideas and fitness for office," Koltuv said. "He has repeatedly made physical threats against me publicly for embarrassing him with these questions. I have shared photographic evidence of these threats with The Observer and the La Grande Police Department. Whether they will hold Cody accountable for making these threats is up to them."

Hays said the police department had received a complaint from Koltuv against Vela for harassment, but it did not go anywhere as no crime had been committed.

Isabella Crowley is a reporter for The Observer. Contact her at 541-624-6014 or