Les is a writer and author, a retired nine-term U.S. congressman from Oregon, and a former university professor of government, Pentagon consultant, college administrator and veteran member of governing boards of both public and private enterprises. As a congressman, he was the first Democrat in Oregon history to win in its First Congressional District, and his congressional service is the sixth-longest in Oregon history. When Les left the Congress in 1993, he was dean of the Oregon House delegation, a Democratic majority whip-at-large, an official congressional observer at the Geneva Strategic Arms Reduction Talks, and a veteran member of the House Appropriations Committee. In his congressional career, he co-authored the 1986 Oregon Wilderness Act, which doubled protection of the most inspiring federal landscapes in the state. He also wrote the moratorium on oil drilling off the seismically active Pacific Continental Shelf, co-sponsored the 1987 Oregon Wild and Scenic River Act, and the law designating the Columbia Gorge Scenic Protection Area. His legislation in the early 1980s bought out a mining claim at Rock Mesa, a large geologically significant area in the Three Sisters Wilderness Area.
After leaving Congress, Les was a visiting professor at Southern Oregon University and the Maxwell School of Government at Syracuse University, a corporate director of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle and, by appointment of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a former adviser to the Pentagon's Joint Forces Command. In 2014, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber appointed him to the board of Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon. Les has authored and co-authored numerous essays, book reviews and books, including Wildfire: 100 Years Of Failed Forest Service Management (Island Press, 2006) and Inalienable Rights, Fundamental Freedoms: A U.N. Agenda for Advancing Human Rights in the World Community (United Nations Association-USA, 1996.)