Cliff Bentz is a native Oregonian, raised on a ranch in eastern Oregon and a graduate of Eastern Oregon State College. He is now a farmer and attorney in Ontario, where he practices water and agricultural law. Bentz served his Eastern Oregon constituents in the Oregon State Legislature, where he has developed a reputation as a consistent, thoughtful conservative who’s not afraid to take on big issues and be a problem solver. He’s running for Congress to reduce the federal government’s tax and regulatory burden on rural Oregonians.
The second of seven children, Cliff Bentz was raised by Kenneth and Anne Bentz on family ranches in Harney County. His grandfather, Paul Stewart, had moved to Harney County in about 1916, acquiring a small ranch near Crane, then trading it for the Mann Lake Ranch, which in turn was traded for the Whitehorse Ranch. The family sold the Whitehorse in 1960, and purchased the Actin Ranch some 15 miles north of Drewsey (in Harney County) in 1961.
As is the case on most ranches and farms, Cliff and his five younger brothers and one older sister, started working at an early age. Milking 3-4 cows, morning and night, was a seven day a week job. For Cliff, this routine began at age 9, and continued until he left the ranch at age 14 to attend high school. During summer months, the workday began at 7:00 A.M. and ended at 5:30 P.M. Summer days were filled with operating haying equipment, stacking tons of hay, and riding horseback to move cattle, brandings, cattle drives, and building mile after mile of fence. During school months, milking the cows, catching the Willy’s jeep “school bus” to school and then, after school, feeding 300-400 weaner calves in the calf lot was routine. Doing your part on the ranch was an unspoken rule. Growing up in Eastern Oregon on a working ranch instills a strong work ethic and Cliff was certainly no exception. Hard work and diligence remain the expected and normal approach to any problem.
From first to fourth grade, Cliff attended Whitehorse School. Alternating between eight and ten students on any given year, the schoolhouse was a one room affair with no running water, but it did come with three outhouses — Boy’s, Girl’s, and Teacher’s. After moving from the Whitehorse to the Drewsey ranch, from fourth grade though eighth, Cliff attended Pine Creek School, a cinderblock building resting alone in a sage brush flat some ten miles from Drewsey. Indoor plumbing was a welcome feature. The number of students was still around ten, but Cliff was the sole member of his class.
Ken and Anne decided to send their oldest three children to Regis High School, a Catholic school in Stayton, Oregon, some 300 miles away from the ranch. Cliff was sent to Scio to live with an Aunt and Uncle, and this allowed him to attend Regis High School. He worked on his uncle’s farm in the afternoons and weekends to help defray the cost of his room and board. At Regis, he was elected associated student body president; served as a delegate to Boy’s State; lettered in basketball and track; and received the Outstanding Standing Senior of 1970 Award.
Beginning in the fall of 1970, Cliff decided to attend Eastern Oregon College in La Grande. An honors student, Cliff found opportunities to serve his school and participate in various sports and leadership roles. From being student body president to leader of the Blue Key honorary fraternity, the student representative on the committee to hire the next college president, and member of the honors program, Cliff made the most of his four years in La Grande, graduating in 1974 cum laude with a B.S. in History.
Following graduation, Cliff was accepted to Lewis and Clark Law School, paying a significant part of his tuition by working on the family ranch in the summers and by clerking at Schwabe, Williamson and Wyatt, a Portland law firm, during his last year of study. His experiences growing up in Eastern Oregon directed him toward a specialty in water and tax law. He graduated in 1977 and joined the law firm of Yturri, O’Kief, Rose and Burnham in Ontario where he focused upon lending law, business transactions, litigation, water, and estate planning. Now a senior partner in the law firm, Cliff continues to practice part time in Oregon and Idaho.
During his legal career, Cliff served his community by participating in the folk Mass group at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Ontario, serving on the St. Peter’s primary school board for six years, serving on the Oregon Water Resources Commission for eight years, serving as vice-chair of the woman’s domestic violence prevention group (Project DOVE) for five years, serving for three years on the Ontario 8C public school board and serving for five years on the Oregon Historical Society Board.
Cliff met Lindsay Norman, DVM, when she located, after graduating from the OSU/WSU veterinary medicine program, in Ontario to practice Veterinary medicine. They were married in 1987. They have two children, Allison and Scott. Twenty-five years ago, Cliff and his wife Lindsay purchased a small row crop farm eight miles outside of Ontario where they built their current home. The majority of the farm is leased to Kitamura Brothers, a row crop farming business.
In 2008, Cliff was one of three candidates selected by Republican Precinct Committee Persons to fill a vacancy after Representative Tom Butler resigned to attend an extended mission through his church. Bentz was appointed by unanimous vote of District 60 county commissioners and went on to serve five terms in the Oregon House continuing until he was chosen, in early 2018, by the PCP’s and County Commissioners of District 30 as the Senator to replace the then retiring Ted Ferrioli. He was then elected, in November of 2018, to complete the remaining two years of Ted’s Senate term.
During the 2019 legislative session, Cliff, along with his ten Republican senate colleagues, (“The Oregon Eleven”) gained national notoriety for the “Oregon Senate Walkout” when he and his fellow Republican’s left Oregon to deny the Democrats a quorum, effectively blocking Governor Brown and the majority-run Democrat House and Senate from passing a massive $1.4 billion carbon tax (HB 2020), and a second bill that would have significantly damaged Oregonian’s Second Amendment rights.
Following Congressman Walden’s announcement that he would retire from congress at the end of his term, and with strong encouragement from Cliff’s friends, family and fellow legislators, Cliff Bentz declared his candidacy for Oregon Congressional District 2 on October 29, 2019.
Please join us on Cliff’s mission to help protect and improve Eastern, Central, and Southern Oregon. This massive district has been dismissed by Democrats in Salem and in Washington for far too long. Cliff knows and loves rural Oregon. Please join Team Bentz today!