A review of the campaign finance records of Republican George Anthony Devolder-Santos, the beleaguered winner of New York’s 2022 3rd Congressional District race, reveals that his biggest single contributor was FTX.US, part of FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried’s collapsed crypto empire.
According to OpenSecrets.org, a nonprofit that tracks data on campaign finance and lobbying, the employees and owners of FTX.US contributed a total of $29,000 to Santos’ campaign.
FTX halted withdrawals in November and filed for bankruptcy after customers rushed to pull their holdings from the cryptocurrency exchange.
FTX.US made contributions totaling $21,882,932 in the 2022 election cycle, with 81.44% of that going to Democrats.
The Oregonian has reported that a $500,000 contribution to the Democratic Party of Oregon PAC came from Nishad Singh, director of engineering at FTX. Pressure is building for recipients of contributions from FTX-affiliated donors to return the money. The Oregon Democratic Party hasn’t yet said it will do so. The PAC had $691,532 cash on hand as of Nov. 28, 2022, according to OpenSecrets.org.
FTX has started trying to claw back payments made by its former management to politicians, The Guardian reported on Dec. 22, 2022.
FTX “intends to commence actions before the bankruptcy court to require the return of such payments, with interest accruing from the date any action is commenced”, the company said, sharing an email address – FTXrepay@ftx.us – that recipients could use to voluntarily return money.
“Recipients are cautioned that making a payment or donation to a third party (including a charity) in the amount of any payment received from a FTX contributor does not prevent the FTX debtors from seeking recovery from the recipient or any subsequent transferee,” FTX added in a statement.
Given the current scandal over Santos’ lying about his personal, academic and professional background, it’s surprising that another significant contributor to his campaign was PACS and individuals associated with prominent companies that apparently didn’t look into Santos’ background.
This includes Fisher Investments, Forman Capital Investments and Majority Committee PAC, a Leadership PAC associated with Rep. Kevin McCarthy, (R-CA), who now wants Santos’ vote to become Speaker of the House.
Liar-elect Santos also raised a substantial portion of his $2,933,614.16 in contributions reported to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) from out-of-district and out-of-state sources, including Patriots AlwaysTriumph, a Leadership PAC affiliated with Rep. Patrick Fallon (R-Texas).
Fortunately, it looks like most Oregonians showed some good sense. Only three people in Oregon contributed a total of $240 to Santos, according to the FEC.
Love Oregon and want to celebrate it this holiday season with a gift made here? Go to a “Made in Oregon” store, right?
“We are proud to offer the highest quality products made by Oregon vendors since 1975,” the retailer proudly proclaims.
On its website, the company points proudly to how it opened its first store at Portland International Airport in 1975 and has since “…built a reputation as a purveyor of high-quality, local products made, designed, or grown in Oregon.”
But “made, designed, or grown in Oregon” leaves a lot of wiggle room and the company takes advantage, allowing companies with limited Oregon connections to sell their products at the Made in Oregon stores. It’s the word “designed” in Oregon that opens the door wide enough to drive a truck through, enabling “localwashing” to prosper.
Puffin Drinkwear, for example, sells quirky insulated beverage covers in the form of jackets , vests, parkas, sweaters and even mini-sleeping bags designed to keep 12 ounce cans and bottles cold or hot.
The Lumberjack from Puffin Drinkwear
The Bend-based company highlights its Bend, OR roots and has gotten a lot of media attention. The Colorado Sun, a widely read digital news outlet in Colorado, recently highlighted the company’s products because of its Bend ties. Uncommon Goods pitches Puffin products as “CREATED IN OREGON BY Tyrone Haze, born and raised in the Pacific Northwest.”
But claiming they are “Made in Oregon” is a stretch.
The FAQS section of its website says, “We work with a variety of manufacturers across the globe. We’ve thoroughly vetted each one to be ethical and good brand partners.”
I checked out the tags on Puffin Drinkwear products at the Washington Square mall’s Made in Oregon store and found they were “Designed in Bend” but “Made in” lots of other places, including China, Cambodia and Vietnam. None of the products on the shelves said they were “Made in America” or “Made in Oregon”.
A close look at multiple other products in the Made in Oregon store revealed the same deceit.
Take the Sasquatch-like plush bigfoot product made by Wishpets LLC of Beaverton, a “Leading designer and manufacturer of plush toys.” The bigfoot tag said “Product of China”. Elisa Martinez, a Marketing & Sales Assistant for Nature Planet | Wishpets®, said all of Wishpets’ products are made in China.
Plush bear from Wishpets
Other products on display that were clearly manufactured in other countries included a “Welcome to Oregon” bear also “Made in China”
and dozens of Hydro Flask bottles which, like Puffin Drinkwear, highlight that they are “Designed in Bend, Oregon”. The company’s website reinforces the message: “Our HQ is literally nestled into a Pacific Northwest wonderland– Bend, Oregon. We’re ridiculously lucky to have always been surrounded by mountains, rivers and lakes. It’s in our DNA.”
The website neglects to mention that Hydro Flask products are manufactured in China.
Then there were the organic cotton socks on display from “Replant Pairs”.
The socks are a product of Tabbisocks, which doesn’t even bother to say the socks are designed in Oregon. “Tabbisocks weaves Japanese craftsmanship from the East with big personality from the West,” it says. “Each sock is made with love in Nara ((Japan), a city steeped in tradition and advanced sock culture.”
Displayed on the apparel racks were Oregon-focused t-shirts by Graphletics. The company’s website says it was founded by Rick Gilbert in his garage in NW Portland in 2013 and has grown into a brand that’s sold across the U.S. and internationally. Its flagship retail location in SE Portland was even recently written up in the New York Times as one of five places to visit as “Sellwood-Moreland has become easier to reach, the working-class enclave has drawn creative entrepreneurs and a young, hip crowd.”
Sure, the store has an Oregon vibe, but its t-shirt at Made in Oregon was “Made in Nicaragua”.
Widespread abuse of Lake Oswego, Oregon’s short-term rentals program proves the point.
In 2019, Lake Oswego tried to get a handle on controversial short-term rentals (STRs) by enacting Ordinance 2815. The ordinance allows STRs (rentals of less than 31 days) of certain residential properties.
Residents who want to operate a STR are required to obtain a business license from the city and pay an $80 annual fee. They’re also required to see to it that the city is paid Transient Lodging Taxes equal to 6% of taxable income from the STR. The tax revenue is used for the promotion and development of tourism and visitor programs for Lake Oswego.
Sounds pretty simple. If you own a property being used for STRs, you need to get a business license and pay taxes on your revenue. But a review of city data on STR business licenses and prominent STR websites shows a lot of people are ignoring the ordinance.
According to information obtained from the city in response to a public records request, there were 42 active STR business licenses as of Dec. 1, 2022. However, a review of just two high use STR websites, Airbnb and VRBO, turned up 75 STRs with Lake Oswego addresses.
Separately, AirDNA, a STR marketing firm, reported that as of Dec. 8, 2022 there were 90 active STRs in Lake Oswego, with 88% being entire home rentals and 12% private rooms.
Of the 90 STR’s counted by AirDNA, 96% had internet access and 8% had pools. Although some Lake Oswego properties are quite expensive, the average daily rate is just $170, generating average revenue per property of $2,682 during Jan -July 2022. The highest average monthly revenue was $3,333 in July 2022.
Of the 90 STRs, 69% were listed on Airbnb, 17% on VRBO and 14% on both.
The Lake Oswego STRs that pop up include everything from a $75-a-night cottage and $47-a-night private room to a “Modern, kid-friendly, walkable”$405-a-night 3-bedroom home and a $1467-a-night massive luxurious estate with 8 bedrooms and a pool.
It’s not possible to identify the addresses of all the properties without trying to book them one by one. Website maps, reveal, however, that they are spread all over Lake Oswego.
Clearly, a lot of people in Lake Oswego are cheating, diminishing themselves, feeding a culture of dishonesty and disrespecting their neighbors.
If a STR is found to be in violation of City Code, the City may suspend or revoke its business license, if it has one. The property owner may also be cited and have to pay a fine or appear in Municipal Court.
It’s time for city government to lay down the law.
Some folks in Lane County, Oregon want to rename the county because, as the Eugene Register-Guard newspaper put it, Joseph Lane’s “…pro-slavery sentiments and actions against Native Americans don’t align with today’s values.”
Joseph Lane, the county’s namesake, was Oregon’s first territorial governor. According to the Register-Guard, he owned at least one slave, a Native American boy, held an “apprenticeship…often recognized as a legalized form of slavery,” over a young man after slavery became illegal, and led actions of violence against Native Americans.
While the re-namers are at it, why not go a whole hog, do a thorough statewide house cleaning? After all, a lot of Oregon’s county names are problematic.
Thomas Hart Benton, Benton County’s namesake, owned slaves on a40,000-acre holding where he had a plantation near Nashville, TN. A strong believer in America’s Manifest Destiny, he was also a staunch advocate of the disenfranchisement and displacement of Native Americans in favor of European settlers.
Let’s rename Benton County.
George R. Crook is Crook County’s namesake. As a member of the U.S. military fought against several Native American tribes in the west, including in Oregon. After the Civil War,he successfully campaigned against the Snake Indians in the 1864-68 Snake War and the Paiute in Eastern Oregon near the eastern edge of Steen’s Mountain.
Let’s rename Crook County.
George L. Curry, Curry County’s namesake, was the last governor of the Oregon Territory. During the Yakima War against Native Americans, in 1855, Governor Curry raised a force of 2,500 volunteers and led them into battle in support of federal troops.
Oregon prepared for statehood under Governor Curry, approving a state constitution in 1857 that prohibited new in-migration of African Americans and made illegal their ownership of real estate. Although enabling legislation was never passed and the clause was voided by the 14th and 15th Amendments passed after the Civil War, the ban remained a part of Oregon’s constitution until it was repealed in 1927.
Let’s rename Curry County.
U.S. Senator Stephen A. Douglas, Douglas County’s namesake, was the foremost advocate of the view that each territory in the United States should be allowed to determine whether to permit slavery within its borders. He was one of four Northern Democrats in the House of Representatives to vote against the Wilmot Proviso that would have banned slavery in any territory acquired from Mexico.
After marrying Martha Martin in March 1847, her father bequeathed her a 2,500-acre cotton plantation with 100 slaves in Missippi. Douglas hired a manager to operate the plantation while using his allocated 20 percent of the income to advance his political career.
Let’s rename Douglas County.
Colonel Cornelius Gilliam, the namesake of Gilliam County, fought against Native Americans in 1832 during the Black Hawk War in the Midwest and in the Seminole Wars in Florida in 1837. He led volunteer forces in the Cayuse Indian War in 1847 and as colonel of a regiment of volunteers he fought the Walla Walla and Palouse near the Touchet River in the Walla Walla Valley, He was also instrumental in military operations to expel the Mormon colony from Missouri.
Let’s rename Gilliam County.
Major General William S. Harney, namesake of Harney County, was commander of the U.S. Army’s Department of Oregon. In 1832, he fought in the Black Hawk War against the Saukj and Fox tribes, which quelled the last Indian resistance to white settlement in the region around Chicago.
During 1835-42, he fought Native Americans in Florida’s Second Seminole War. At the Battle of Ash Hollow in western Nebraska, soldiers under his command indiscriminately killed Brulé Lakota men, women, and children, earning him the sobriquet, The Butcher. According to the Oregon Encyclopedia, Harney was “A brash, opportunistic cavalry officer with an explosive temper and a vindictive predilection for conflict with Indians,” who at one point bludgeoned to death a family female house slave.
Let’s rename Harney County.
President Andrew Jackson, namesake of Jackson County, owned a Tennessee plantation, the Hermitage, where he owned slaves. Over his lifetime, he owned a total of 300 slaves and at his death in 1845, he had over 150.
He led troops during the Red Stick War of 1813–1814, leading to The subsequent Treaty of Fort Jackson which required the Creek tribe to surrender vast tracts of present-day Alabama and Georgia. He also commanded U.S. forces in the First Seminole War against Native Americans, which led to the U.S. annexation of Florida. In 1830, he signed the Indian Removal Act, which forced tens of thousands of Native Americans from their ancestral homelands east of the Mississippi and resulted in thousands of deaths.
Let’s rename Jackson County.
Jefferson Countywas named for Mount Jefferson, which was named for President Thomas Jefferson by Lewis and Clark on their westward expedition. Jefferson owned more than 600 slaves during his life. The slaves he owned at the time of his death were sold to pay the debts of his estate.
As US Secretary of State, Jefferson issued in 1795, with President Washington’s authorization, $40,000 in emergency relief and 1,000 weapons to French slave owners in Saint-Dominque (Modern day Haiti) in order to suppress a slave rebellion. When elected president, Jefferson brought slaves from Monticello to work at the White House.
Let’s rename Jefferson County (and Mount Jefferson while we’re at it).
Virginia “Josephine” Rollins is the namesake of Josephine County. Her claim to fame was that she was the first white woman to live in the area. That alone might be considered racist enough to justify renaming Josephine County.
Let’s rename Josephine County.
U.S. Senator Lewis F. Linn of Missouri is the namesake for Linn County. He was honored as an early champion of the Donation Land Claim Act of 1850. The Act spurred a huge migration into Oregon Territory by offering qualifying citizens free land just to white male citizens 18 years of age or older who resided on property on or before December 1, 1850. Members of Native tribes were not U.S. citizens and therefore could not own land under the law.
“The DLCA was the only federal land-distribution act in U.S. history that specifically limited land grants by race, essentially creating an affirmative action program for White people,” Kenneth R. Coleman wrote in theOregon Historical Quarterly. “Perhaps most decisively, the issuance of free land resulted in a massive economic head start for White cultivators and initiated a long-standing pattern in which access to real estate became an instrument of White supremacy and social control.”
Let’s rename Linn County.
President James K. Polk, Polk County’s namesake, was a property owner who used slave labor. He owned a plantation in Mississippi and even increased his slave ownership during his presidency.
Polk inherited 20 slaves from his father and in 1831 became an absentee cotton planter, sending enslaved people to clear plantation land that his father had left him near Somerville, Tennessee. Four years later Polk sold his Somerville plantation and, together with his brother-in-law, bought 920 acres of land, a cotton plantation near Coffeeville, Mississippi and transferred slaves there. He purchased more slaves in subsequent years. In an era when the presidential salary was expected to cover wages for the White House servants, as president Polk replaced them with enslaved people from his home in Tennessee.
Let’s rename Polk County.
William Tecumseh Sherman, Sherman County’s namesake, was a Union hero in the Civil war, but far from an abolitionist. “For one thing, Sherman was a white supremacist,” novelist Thom Bassett wrote in the New York Times in an opinion piece about Sherman’s Southern Sympathies. “All the congresses on earth can’t make the negro anything else than what he is; he must be subject to the white man,” Sherman wrote his wife in 1860. “Two such races cannot live in harmony save as master and slave.”
History had forced the institution of slavery on the South, Sherman thought, and its continued prosperity depended on embracing it, Bassett wrote. “Theoretical notions of humanity and religion cannot shake the commercial fact that their labor is of great value and cannot be dispensed with.”
Let’s rename Sherman County.
And let’s not forget Washington County.
President George Washington was the namesake for Washington County.
One of the original four counties of the Provisional Government in Oregon and first called Twality, the county was renamed in 1849 in honor of the president.
Washington’s Virginia estate, Mount Vernon, was home to hundreds of enslaved men, women, and children, on who’s labor he depended to build and maintain his household and plantation. Over the course of his life, at least 577 enslaved people lived and worked at Mount Vernon. At his death, Mount Vernon’s enslaved population totaled 317 people. In his will, he ordered that his slaves be freed at his wife’s death, but that request applied to fewer than half of the people in bondage at Mount Vernon. Those owned by his wife’s estate were inherited by Martha Washington’s grandchildren after her death.
According to the Mount Vernon plantation’s current website, “After the Revolution, George Washington repeatedly voiced opposition to slavery in personal correspondence. He privately noted his support for a gradual, legislative end to slavery, but as a public figure, he did not make abolition a cause. “
Time to change the name of Washington County, too, don’t you think?
Once upon a time, not that long ago, a logo was intentionally small, noticeable but understated, signifying membership in a privileged class. Tennis great René Lacoste’s crocodile logo was once such a mark, eventually seen on polo shirts at every exclusive tennis club.
What was once discreet has now become loud and odious, announcing the wearer like a human corporate billboard, little more than an emissary for a brand.
A $5,350 Balenciaga logo-print sequin high-neck dress is a blatant illustration of the trend,
But as they say, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Now branding has infiltrated journalism.
A Nov. 24, 2022 New York Times story by Cara Schacter about Evan Mock, described as a “Gossip Girl star” and “party-circuit fixture,” illustrates the trend.
Evan Mock Source: New York Times
A single paragraph managed to highlight six brands, singer-songwriter Frank Ocean and Celebrity Stylist Donté McGuine:
“A king of the “collab,” he has worked with brands including the Danish jewelry manufacturer Pandora and the Italian footwear designer Giuseppe Zanotti. He has modeled for designers including Paco Rabanne and Virgil Abloh. His skateboarding prowess has landed him a hefty sponsorship from Hurley and an elusive spot on the Instagram grid of Frank Ocean. A few months ago, he started a fashion line, Wahine, with the stylist Donté McGuine.”
The 1,815-word story went on to reference Mock’s order at “Madhufalla Organic Juice and Smoothie Bar on Mulberry Street”, a swig of coconut water he took from “a Tetra Pak”, his “North Face x Paraboot shoes” that are unavailable on “streetwear website Hypebeast”, the “Louis Vuitton purse” on the kitchen counter of his apartment , the “Rimowa suitcase “ in his livingroom, the “Rimowa cross-body messenger bag” he dons when skateboarding through Manhattan, what looked like a ”McDonald’s Happy Meal box” that turned out to be “a box of Cactus Plant Flea Market x McDonald’s collectibles from the streetwear label’s limited-run release” you can find on “eBay”, the mileage Mock has put on his “VanMoof e-bike”, the “vintage dark gray Number Nine T-shirt” “boxy Wahine zip-up hoodie” “dark-wash Palace jeans” “Ambush edition Nike Air Adjust Force sneakers”, “Palace hat “and “Isabel Marant sunglasses” he put on.
Near an “REI store” he passed by a “Calvin Klein billboard”, watched a skateboarder wipe out in front of the bistro “Jack’s Wife Freda”, rode with a friend on “Citi Bikes”, pulled over to hug his brand-deal agent, Jenelle Phillip, who was outdoor-dining at “Cafe Mogador” and eventually reached the “Ace Bar on East Fifth Street”.
There’s no question we have entered an age of incessant brand promotion and awareness.
“In a marketing culture that assaults our senses without mercy, there’s no such a thing as a brand-free interaction,” writes Micah Bowers. “We’re bobbing in the waters of an endless brand ocean.”
All this reminds me of advice a public relations professional gave me when I took a job as Communications Manager at a major technology company. “Whenever you watch a TV news segment, ask yourself how that story got there. Most of the time a talented PR professional pitched it,” he said.
The fact is, as documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock has noted, “From the minute you wake up, wherever you go, someone is marketing to you.” The intrusion of brands into our everyday lives is so pervasive we are hardly aware of what’s going on.
Fast Company outlined how content businesses accept all kinds of marketing deals to ensure products reach us. “Novelists make deals for product placement (also known as “embedded marketing) within their hallowed pages,” the publication said. Rock stars routinely license songs for commercials and create tunes commissioned by brands. And while product placement has been a fact of life in Hollywood since the era of silent films, it’s now a major revenue generator for movies…”
The most popular and thrilling car chase in cinema history was a nine-minute, 42-second thrill ride through San Francisco by Steve McQueen in Bullitt. It was also a prime marketing tool paid for by Ford for its Mustang.
And then, of course, there was the brilliant placement of Reese’s Pieces in E.T., used by Elliott in the film to lure the alien out of hiding. Hershey’s saw a 65% spike in their sales within two weeks of the film’s release.
From an Oregon perspective, Forrest Gump was a prominent promoter of Nike when he was gifted a pair of Nike Cortez running shoes and a close-up of him lacing them up followed.
Product marketing has become so invasive it is overwhelming us, and it’s just going to get worse.
$420 Billion: Amount of the federal budget that provided benefits to veterans and former career employees of the federal government, both civilian and military, in FY2022, which ended on Sept. 30, 2022.
$36 Billion: Biden payout to the underfunded union-run Central States Pension Fund to shore up more than 200 distressed plans; approved as part of a stimulus bill intended to reduce economic damage from the Covid-19 pandemic.
$4.8 Billion: The amount candidates, party committees, leadership PACs and joint fundraising committees spent on the 2022 midterm elections as of Oct. 19, 2022. Campaigns spent almost $1 billion on digital ads alone.