The Clackamas County Commission Chair position is nonpartisan, right?

bernardludlow

Jim Bernard (R) is challenging John Ludlow (L)

The Clackamas County Commission Chair position is nonpartisan, right? Don’t believe it.

The race between Jim Bernard and John Ludlow for Chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners make the partisanship clear.

Start with a look at Bernard’s endorsers in the Oregon Voters Pamphlet:

  • Congressman Kurt Schrader     (Democrat)
  • Representative Brent Barton     (Democrat)
  • Representative Shemia Fagan  (Democrat)
  • Representative Carolyn Tomei (Democrat)
  • Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba (Democrat)
  • Milwaukie UFCW Local 555
  • Oregon League of Conservation Voters (A wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party)

 

Now, let’s look at Bernard’s principal campaign contributors in 2016:

  • United Food and Commercial Workers local 555                            $23,841.46
  • Clackamas County Democratic Central Committee (293)           $12,473.90
  • Blumenauer for Congress                                                                       $ 8,877.79
  • Joint Council of Teamsters No. 37 Political Fund (80)                   $ 7,000.00
  • Oregon AFSCME Council 75                                                                    $ 5,000.00
  • Local 48 Electricians PAC (4572)                                                           $ 4,500.00
  • Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters                         $ 2,650.00
  • AFSCME Local 350 Political Fund                                                          $ 1,500.00
  • Plumbers & Steamfitters PAC (221)                                                      $ 1,500.00
  • Willamette Women Democrats PAC (5534)                                        $ 1,250.00
  • Oregon Laborers Political Action Committee (16480)                    $ 1,000.00
  • Oregon League of Conservation Voters (2352)                                  $ 1,000.00
  • NW Regional Council NCA 91                                                                  $ 1,000.00
  • IUPAT Intl Union of Painters and Allied Trades                                $ 1,000.00
  • Amalgamated Transit Union 757 Political Fund (3094)                  $    800.00
  • Professional Firefighters PAC #3219 (3219)                                        $    750.00
  • Oregon Truck PAC                                                                                        $    500.00
  • Oregon Trail Democrats (10087)                                                             $    300.00

According to records filed with the Oregon Secretary of State, Bernard’s campaign for Clackamas County Chair has raised $176,532.81 in 2016. This includes $18,080.35 in loans and $18,480.35 of in-kind contributions (Total: $36,560.70) to the campaign from Bernard’s Garage Inc.

Subtracting the personal loans and Bernard’s Garage in-kind contributions, Bernard’s campaign has raised $139,972.11. Of that, $74,943.15 has come just from state and federal Democratic party organizations, Democratic office holders and unions.

In other words, at least 54 percent of the contributions to Bernard’s campaign have come from state and federal Democratic party organizations, Democratic office holders and unions.

Still think the Commission Chair race is nonpartisan?

 P.S. – I sent a copy of this story to Clackamas County Clerk Sherry Hall. She responded “Yes”. Maybe all she read was the headline.

 

 

 

 

 

Why Brad Avakian could win (sadly)

avakian750xx6016-3384-0-316

“Got ya fooled, don’t I?”

A local pollster told me awhile ago that about 50 percent of eligible voters in Oregon don’t know that the state has two U.S. senators (maybe because there’s only one senate race at a time).

KGW-TV reporter Pat Dooris recently held up two signs, one with the name Brad Avakian and the other with the name Dennis Richardson, and asked passersby in downtown Portland if they knew who the people were. All the answers? Nope. Nope. Nope.

I mention these situations because they demonstrate that a lot of voters are, in fact, a basket of deplorables in terms of political knowledge.

ignorance

Political knowledge levels have been poor for decades, despite increased education and the availability of information on the Internet.

A recent Fairleigh Dickinson University survey studied the “clueless factor” among voters. The survey found that only 34% of Americans can name the three branches of government, and 30% can’t even name one.

Other studies routinely find that large numbers of voters don’t know which officials are responsible for which issues, a circumstance that makes it hard to hold them accountable for their performance.

All that cluelessness bodes well for Brad Avakian.

Avakian is running for Oregon Secretary of State, but you’d never know it from his campaign. In a classic example of misdirection, instead of emphasizing his fit for the Secretary of State job, he’s running as a champion of liberal causes.

Look at one of his ubiquitous TV ads.

The ad notes that Avakian is endorsed by the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, the NARAL Pro Choice Oregon PAC, Planned Parenthood PAC of Oregon, Sierra Club Oregon Chapter, Oregon Education Association, and the Working Families Party.

Meanwhile, speakers in the ad emphasize how Avakian will protect the environment, break down the walls of discrimination, ensure a woman can make personal medical decisions about her pregnancy, and fight for regular people and not corporate special interests.

These topics have little to do with the job of the Oregon Secretary of State, but they do tug at the heartstrings of liberal voters. And that may well be what attracts enough voters to Avakian to make him the winner (and us the losers).

Why is Val Hoyle smiling?

moneyinpolitics

Like Hillary Clinton, Rep. Val Hoyle, D-Eugene, who’s running for Secretary of State,  wants to get the obscene amounts of money out of politics…..later.

 

That way, she can rake in bundles of money now while running for Oregon Secretary of State as a champion of fundraising reform.

hoyle-mobile

Val Hoyle (D-Eugene)

In the past, Hoyle has said she supports enacting a constitutional amendment to limit campaign contributions, so long as the limits aren’t “unreasonably low”.

She has also blamed Democratic losses outside Oregon on “fear and cynicism” among voters fostered by large political contributions “from a small handful of special interests”.

So much for worrying about special interests.

According to state records, Hoyle has raised $587,000 to date, putting her at the top of the fundraising pile among the Secretary of State candidates.

Val Hoyle (D)……………………..$592,728

Brad Avakian (D)…………………$387,482

Dennis Richardson (R)………….$297,413

Richard Devlin (D)……………. ..$172,315

Sid Leiken (R)……………………..$ 45,104

Hoyle’s biggest contributor is Michael Bloomberg, a New York businessman who supports aggressive gun control measures. On April 29, he gave Hoyle $250,000 in appreciation for her support of legislation that passed in the last session expanding background checks to almost all private firearm transfers.

“Mike is supporting Val Hoyle because her leadership in passing Oregon’s background check bill is truly notable,” Howard Wolfson, a spokesman for Bloomberg, told Willamette Week in an email. “No one in the country has worked harder —or more successfully—to take on the NRA than she has.”

Hoyle has also received $105,000 in contributions from Emily’s List, a Washington, D.C.-based political action committee that supports female candidates.

Without those two large contributions, both from out-of-state, Hoyle would have raised just $237,728, which would have put her behind both Brad Avakian and Dennis Richardson in fundraising totals.

 

P.S.: The other candidates aren’t exactly pure in their fundraising either, although they’re collecting nothing comparable to Hoyle from individual donors.

Brad Avakian’s larger contributions

  • $40,000 from United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555
  • $30,000 from Oregon School Employees Association – Voice of Involved Classified Employees (2307)
  • $10,000 from Pacific NW Regional Council of Carpenters, SSF
  • $10,000 from Oregon League of Conservation Voters PAC (2352)
  • $7,500 from Peter Goldman, a Seattle attorney
  • $6,000 from Naral Pro-Choice Oregon PAC (172)
  • $2,500 from Mt. & M Gaming, operator of The Last Frontier Casino in La Center, WA

 

Dennis Richardson’s larger contributions 

  • $25,000 from Sherman and Wanda Olsrud of Medford, OR
  • $15,000 from Larry Keith of Salem, OR
  • $15,000 from James Young of Lebanon, OR
  • $15,000 from Freres Timber, Inc. of Lyons, OR
  • $10,000 from Stephen M Greenleaf of Medford, OR
  • $10,000 from Richard E Uihlein of Lake Forest, IL
  • $10,000 from Murphy Co. of Eugene, OR
  • $5,000 from Zidelle Collin s of Shady Grove, OR
  • $5,000 from David A deVilleneuve of Central Point, OR

Who owns Chuck Riley?

Democrat Chuck Riley’s defeat of Republican Bruce Starr on Nov. 4 for Oregon’s 15th District Senate seat cost a ton of money. Now, like a company that’s gone public, his key supporters are going to expect a return on their investments.

rileySenate

As of Dec. 8, 2014, Riley’s campaign committee, Friends of Chuck Riley, had raised $913,372.33 and spent $889,757.01, according to records on file with the Oregon Secretary of State. The onslaught of campaign cash was so great that the contest ended up being the most expensive state Senate race in Oregon history.

But it was also a very tight race, with Riley finally coming in ahead by just 287 votes out of 39,734 cast. Likely costing Starr the race was the Libertarian candidate, Caitlin Mitchel-Markley, who captured 3,593 votes.

That suggests the next race will be hard fought as well, particularly if no 3rd party candidate runs, and that it will again require a substantial war chest. To create that war chest Riley will have to placate some big givers. After all, it was the big givers who filled his coffers, not the little people.
So who does Chuck Riley owe for his victory?

The biggest cash/in-kind contributors to Friends of Chuck Riley were Riley’s own Democratic Party, unions, a climate change activist, trial lawyers, and two national gun control groups.

The money from the Democratic Party came from two groups, the Senate Democratic Leadership Fund ($174,585.50)
and the Democratic Party of Oregon ($107,577.56), which received significant contributions from some of the same characters as Riley’s committee.

For example, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s gun control group, Everytown for Gun Safety, donated $75,000 directly to Friends of Chuck Riley and $50,000 to the Senate Democratic Leadership Fund.

Michael Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg

Riley’s committee also pulled in $10,000 from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

Other big contributors to Riley’s Committee included:

• Service Employees International Union (SEIU) $204,460.39

This includes: $193,661.96 from Citizen Action for Political Education of SEIU Local 503; $10,798.43 from Committee on Political Education of SEIU Local 49.

seiu

• Oregon League of Conservation Voters PAC $191,120.02

OLCV made an in-kind contribution of $127,498.50 in the form of a TV ad. The balance was in the form of: cash; in-kind field work, postage, preparation and production of advertising and a phone program. The TV ad money came out of a $130,000.00 contribution to OLCV from NextGen Climate Action Committee, established by billionaire Tom Steyer to help candidates who support the need to deal with climate change.

Oregon_League_of_Conservation_Voters-270x222

• Oregon Trial Lawyers Association PAC $38,477.87

otla_logo

• Oregon American Federation of State, County
and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 75
Political Soft $17,500.00

afscme

• Oregon Education Association – People for
Improvement of Education $8,342.00

OEA_logo

• Other unions $10,500.00

Joint Council of Teamsters No. 37 Political Fund
$1,750

United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local
555
$4,500

Oregon School Employees Association – Voice of
Involved Classified Employees
$1,000

International Union of Operating Engineers, Local
701 Misc PAC
$250

American Federation of Teachers-Oregon Candidate
PAC
$3,000

All of the above contributions totaled $752,563.34. That’s 85 percent of total expenditures by Riley’s committee.

Compare that with the amount that came in from contributors of $100 or less, about $8000. That’s less than 1 percent of total expenditures by Riley’s committee. Even if all the small contributors had bundled their money in an effort to enhance their potential influence, they would have been a small player. They might as well have spent their money on a nice dinner out.

So, how are we going to know the influence of the big donors on Riley? It’s not going to be easy.

First of all, it’s not clear that the size of Riley’s war chest was the key determinant in his victory. There’s no hard evidence of a constant linear linkage between campaign money and victory, although a candidate does need enough money to deliver key messages to critical audiences.

But now that Riley has been elected, the major donors are likely to influence positions Riley takes.Equally important, large donations to Riley are likely to give certain interests better access to him to influence public policy in general.

Big donors will also probably have an ability to influence the shape and specifics of legislation that’s before Riley much earlier in the legislative process, when it’s harder for the public to detect.

Large donations may also carry the day on critical votes where Riley’s one vote for or against can determine the fate of a bill. “These low salience critical votes present the most likely circumstances for members to repay groups for their financial support,” according to Lynda Powell at the University of Rochester in a paper on The Influence of Campaign Contributions on Legislative Policy.

One thing is clear – the big donors are going to be keeping an eye on Riley, just like big investors keep an eye on the stock market. All investments carry some risk, but the reward for risk can be a great return.

return-on-investment1

Climate change and guns: the long arms of out-of-state billionaires reach into the Oregon Senate

What do Tom Steyer of San Francisco (and Lake Tahoe and Pescadero) and Michael Bloomberg of New York (and Bermuda, London, Colorado and Florida) have to do with Oregon politics? A lot it turns out.

Their money helped the Democrats strengthen their hold on the Oregon Senate and potentially push through controversial environmental and gun control legislation.

Bloomberg is the billionaire co-founder of Bloomberg L.P., a privately held financial software, data and media company based in New York City, and a former mayor of New York City.

Michael Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg

Steyer is a billionaire who co-founded the $21 billion Farallon Capital Management fund. He spent an estimated $65 million this election through his NextGen Climate political action committee (PAC) to help candidates who support the need to deal with climate change.

Tom Steyer

Tom Steyer

Steyer spent $8.5 million in Colorado to help Democrat Sen. Mark Udall in his losing race against Republican Cory Gardner.

He also spent $11 million in Iowa to help Democrat Bruce Braley in his losing Senate race against Republican Joni Ernst.

His ambitions in Oregon were considerably more modest, but could still have a big impact. Here his NextGen PAC spent $130,000 to help Democrat Chuck Riley in his race against Republican State Senator Bruce Starr and Democrat Sara Gelser in her Senate race against Republican Betsy Close.

Riley defeated Starr in a squeaker by just 221 votes, 17,930 to 17,709; Gelser handily defeated Close by 27,375 to 21,571.

Riley’s campaign finance report doesn’t show any contributions from Streyer’s out-of-state PAC. That’s because the PAC donated the money to the Oregon League of Conservation Voters (OLCV) PAC, which is for all intents and purposes an arm of the Democratic Party. The in-state OLCV PAC then used the funds to support Riley, giving him a total of $191,120.02.

To further bolster the Democrat’s cause, Steyer’s NextGen Climate Action Committee also gave $100,000 to the Democratic Party of Oregon.

Gelser’s campaign finance report doesn’t show any contributions from Streyer’s out-of-state PAC either, but it does show $76,755.36 from the OLCV.
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Meanwhile, Bloomberg’s EveryTown for Gun Safety Action Fund sent $75,000 to Riley’s campaign, as well as $250,000 to Gov. Kitzhaber and $50,000 to the Senate Democratic Leadership Fund.

Everytown for Gun Safety was created earlier this year by combining a Bloomberg-backed group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a movement that grew out of the Newtown shootings in 2012. The two groups have been working together since December.

Did the Steyer and Bloomberg money make a difference?

According to filings with the Oregon Secretary of State, Riley raised a total of $891,153.99 for his campaign and Starr a total of $901,097.63. That means a significant portion of Riley’s campaign money came just from Steyer and Bloomberg.

Add whatever impact Steyer’s $100,000 donation to the Democratic Party of Oregon had on Riley’s race and these two out-of-staters likely played a huge role in Riley’s victory.

According to filings with the Oregon Secretary of State, Gelser raised a total of $843,711.67 for her campaign. Of that, $76,755.36 came from the OLCV. Close raised significantly less, $556,628.14.

The Steyer/OLCV money probably didn’t play as much of a key role in Gelser’s victory, but it surely helped expand her advantage.

Oregon tried to limit the influence of out-of-state campaign contributions in 1994 when it passed Ballot Measure 6 that amended the Oregon Constitution to limit out-of-district contributions to 10 percent of the total. But a federal appeals court ruled in 1998 that the limit violated the First Amendment and was unconstitutional.

So expect more of the same in future Oregon elections, and then some.