Blog Post
October 2, 2018




Oregon Using Facebook To Remind Inactive Voters To Update Registration

Oregon Public Broadcasting

In this era of manipulators using social media to interfere in elections, Oregon officials moved Tuesday to use Facebook to bolster participation by reminding as many as hundreds of thousands of inactive voters to update their registration. “Utilizing cutting-edge technologies to empower eligible voters isn’t just something we can do — it’s something we must do if we’re serious about outreach,” Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson said in announcing what he called the first-of-its-kind program. The initiative comes as Facebook tries to recover from a privacy scandal in which a political consulting firm with ties to President Donald Trump improperly accessed the data of tens of millions of Facebook users.

Secretary of State requesting money for Medicaid audit team

East Oregonian

The Secretary of State’s Office is requesting $779,797 in the next two-year budget for three auditors who will focus on Medicaid programs, state records show. The next two-year budget begins in mid-2019. The request comes after auditors initially raised questions in May 2017 about whether everyone enrolled in the Oregon Health Plan, the state’s Medicaid program, were eligible for the benefit. The proposed Medicaid unit at the Secretary of State’s Office would audit eligibility determinations and “appropriateness of payments made on behalf of Medicaid clients,” said Deb Royal, Secretary of State Dennis Richardson’s chief of staff, in an email. The team would include an audit manager, lead auditor and a staff auditor that would complete one to two audits per year, depending on their scope, according to the budget request. “Because the program is both high risk and costly, we believe it warrants a dedicated audit team,” Royal wrote.


Knute Buehler gets $750,000 from national Republican group


The GOP candidate for governor, Knute Buehler, has received a major cash infusion — $750,000 — from the Republican Governors Association in recent months, the group confirmed Monday. "The Oregon governorship is a prime pick-up opportunity for Republicans this November," communications director Jon Thompson wrote in an email Monday afternoon.

Merkley, Brown Rescind Their Endorsements of Embattled Bend House Candidate

Willamette Week

"It's important to me that Oregonians know who they're voting for and that candidates are honest about their history," Brown said in a statement. "Based on this new revelation, I am withdrawing my endorsement of Amanda La Bell." Ray Zaccaro, a spokesman for Merkley also said today's news ended Merkley's interest in helping La Bell. "Sen. Merkley is withdrawing his support," Zaccaro says. In a statement this afternoon, La Bell offered an explanation and an apology, saying she'd dropped out of college because of family and and financial pressures. "I felt a deep sense of guilt and shame at not being able to achieve the milestone of a college degree," La Bell said. "It is this sense of shame that led me, many years ago, to write on my LinkedIn profile that I had received a Bachelors of Arts from Valdosta State University. This was then picked up and repeated on my online work profile. This was again repeated in my Voter's Pamphlet Statement. Neither my campaign nor I knowingly made false claims in the Voter's Pamphlet Statement. I realize that claiming to have earned a Bachelor's degree is unacceptable and wrong, and I express my profound apologies to all affected by this."

Republicans seek investigation into Bend candidate’s voter guide lie

The Bend Bulletin

The political arm of Oregon House Republicans has filed a formal complaint against La Bell, asking the Secretary of State to investigate the matter. Promote Oregon Leadership PAC Executive Director Preston Mann said the group was not seeking any specific remedy. “The complaint is simply meant to hold Ms. La Bell accountable for lying on her Voters Pamphlet statement,” Mann said. “This is a felony under Oregon law for a reason: voters expect candidates to represent themselves in a truthful manner. We trust the Secretary of State and the Attorney General to handle this case in an appropriate manner and in accordance with Oregon law.”

Food workers union gives $390,000 to Oregon Working Families Party


It was unclear from state campaign finance records how the party plans to use the money, which it has not reported spending. Political action committees have until early October to report that information. Although La Bell's race is in a key swing district, there are several conservative initiatives on the ballot this fall which public employee unions have already pledged to fight. Neither the union nor a Working Families Party spokeswoman could be reached immediately for comment.

Who is Paying For the Attack Ads on Gov. Kate Brown?

Willamette Week

The ads, which criticize Brown's lack of oversight of child welfare, public pensions and mental health, are the work of GOP strategists Erica Hetfeld and Tiffany Grabenhorst, who on Feb. 16, 2017, incorporated a nonprofit called Priority Oregon. Priority Oregon took a page from Our Oregon, the labor-backed political action committee that for the past 13 years has operated as a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization. That designation allows nonprofits to engage in political activity without disclosing their donors. "We started Priority Oregon to give Oregonians the tools and information they need to demand changes from their elected officials to make Oregon a better place," Hetfeld says. "The government employee unions and environmental groups have been doing this for years, and we were finally fed up with voters only getting one side of the story.

Who Is Not on the Oregon Ballot But Has the Most at Stake This November?

Willamette Week

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. He won't be up for re-election until 2020, but the final two years of his first term will be shaped by what happens this fall. "White men have dominated the City Council for more than 100 years," says Eudaly chief of staff Marshall Runkel. "It will be interesting to see how the first majority female council will operate. There's some evidence that more female representation leads to more spending on social welfare, but it is impossible to predict how that dynamic will play out in Portland."

Why is the GOP Nominee for Governor Supporting a Ballot Measure That Would Help Deport Undocumented Immigrants?

Willamette Week

Political observers say Buehler's decision was calculated to appeal to conservative voters across the state who in 2014 overwhelmingly struck down a law that allowed undocumented immigrants to obtain four-year Oregon driver's cards. But the political atmosphere has changed in the past four years. Xenophobia has a face: the orange mug of President Donald J. Trump. The White House's zero-tolerance and family separation policies on immigration have generated tremendous outrage. And while nearly half of Oregon's sheriffs signed a letter in August supporting Measure 105, they enforce the law for less than 20 percent of the state's population. Some of the state's most prominent law-and-order figures—including Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese and Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel—are against the measure. Some people think Buehler has miscalculated.

Why Was it So Easy For Republicans to Crowd Oregon’s November Ballot With Measures?

Willamette Week

Notice a theme among the measures on the statewide ballot? Four of the five address conservatives' pet causes: abortion restrictions, immigration enforcement, and bans on raising taxes. That's a reversal from the past few election cycles, which mostly featured proposals from progressives. And it suggests that beneath this fall's much-anticipated "blue wave" is a red riptide. If conservative measures are experiencing a slight revival in popularity—like '90s sitcoms!—one reason may be that Republicans feel they have to use the initiative process because they have no shot at getting their ideas through the overwhelmingly Democratic-controlled Legislature. The further Salem tilts left, says Republican state Rep. Julie Parrish (West Linn), the more likely conservatives are to appeal directly to voters. "I'm sure if you're a Democrat in Texas, it's equally as frustrating," Parrish says. "The power pendulum should not ever be stuck in one position. Fifty percent of the state can't be wrong all the time."

Supporters of Measure 104 Say it’s About Fiscal Discipline, But What’s the Real Issue?

Willamette Week

The primary supporters of Measure 104 are the Oregon Association of Realtors. The association's specific goal is to protect the mortgage interest deduction, which allows homeowners to deduct interest they pay on home loans from their taxable income (a deduction allowed by every state in the union). There are a number of reasons 104 is on the ballot: Democrats are indeed looking at killing or reducing existing exemptions. A 2017 bill that would have ended the deductibility of second home mortgages died without a vote. But some Democrats have pledged to go after both first and second home mortgages. Second, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that lawmakers could indeed eliminate tax exemptions with a simple majority vote. That ruling was contrary to prior guidance from legislative counsel. Finally, Republicans fear new fees could emerge from climate policies, like cap and trade. Measure 104 would do more than protect the mortgage interest deduction, however. It would also limit lawmakers' authority to raise fees or reduce tax breaks. Paul Rainey, a spokesman for the Yes on 104 campaign, says that's a good idea. "We think Oregonians want to keep Kate Brown and others' hands out of the cookie jar," he says. "Right now, it's too easy to raise revenue without a three-fifths vote."

The Salem Statesman Journal Is Trying a New Way to Vet Lawmakers. Candidates Don’t Like It.

Willamette Week

As the general election approaches, reporters across the state will rush to check the backgrounds of candidates. This year, the Salem Statesman Journal proposed a new approach: Executive editor Cherrill Crosby wrote to mid-Willamette Valley legislative candidates asking them to submit to a background check overseen by a Washington nonprofit called Verify More. Neither of the major parties responded with enthusiasm. "It's just kind of unusual," says Tom Powers, a spokesman for the Senate Democratic campaign committee. "It's something you'd expect beat reporters in the newsroom to do." Noting that many of the board members of Verify More have been active in Republican politics, House Democrats advised candidates not to participate. Preston Mann, a spokesman for House Republican candidates, says his colleagues were puzzled and wanted more time to consider the Statesman Journal's request. "Candidates obviously expect to be scrutinized as part of the process, but this request is a bit unique," Mann says. "Most of them are just concerned about who this third-party entity is and what they will be doing with their personal information."

Why is Nike Co- Founder Phil Knight Backing Both Colin Kaepernick and Republican Nominee For Governor Knute Buehler?

Willamette Week

To get answers, it's important to understand two things about Nike. First, Knight transferred the bulk of his Nike stock to a company controlled by his son, Travis, in 2016. So in addition to having retired as chairman, he is no longer the company's largest individual shareholder—he no longer calls the shots. Second, Nike—and Knight—grew wealthy through a keen understanding of the retail market and a disciplined, bottom-line focus. There's no reason to believe that's changed. Market analysts have pointed out that most of Nike's customers are under 35—a demographic friendlier to Kaepernick than to Trump. Longtime Nike watcher Matt Powell of New York-based market research firm the NPD Group tells WW the Kaepernick campaign is simply smart business. "Consumers want brands to take visible stands on social issues," Powell says.

Measure 103 Will Ban Grocery Taxes. What Else Will it Do?

Willamette Week

If Measure 103 passes, it would be the death knell for a decadelong effort—backed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg—to tax Coke and other sugary beverages in Multnomah County. Health advocates are crying foul. "Oregon has a long history of successful policymaking at the local level," says Christina Bodamer, a lobbyist for American Heart Association. "Measure 103 removes local control to enact public health policies, such as sugar-sweetened beverage taxes, products which are particularly harmful to the health of our children."


Portland Burgerville Workers Go on Strike Over Company Ban on Political Buttons

Willamette Week

A spokesperson for Burgerville declined to comment directly on the workers' strike, but instead directed WW to its blog— "You may think our policy makes a lot of sense, and that's great. It's equally possible that you'll disagree with us, and that's okay, too," a Sept. 17 post titled A Letter from Burgerville reads. "But the tenor of this conversation about a company policy has moved to a very different place." It continues: "We've seen people who don't want to see political slogans when they eat called 'racists' or even 'white supremacists.' We've seen employees who want to join a union called 'stupid' or 'spoiled' or worse […] Name calling, bullying, harassment, and false accusations are not what this community is about. It's not what Burgerville is about. Our mission is to serve with love. If you are interested in that, we'd love for you to join us for a burger." Meanwhile, the BVWU union continues its call for customers to boycott the chain. The boycott is now in its seventh month.


House Republicans negative ad campaign heavy on disingenuousness

Statesman Journal

Recently, billboards sprung up around Salem that zeroed in on incumbent candidate Rep. Paul Evans' violations of Oregon election law. The billboards declare in tall letters that Evans has violated election law 111 times. This might be a scathing accusation if other Oregon lawmakers from all parties weren't guilty of the same infraction of Oregon's Campaign Finance Manual year in and year out. We're not advocating candidates become scofflaws. Rep. Evans should pay the penalty and pay it promptly. But just as a developer can intentionally pay property taxes late as a cost of doing business, a late filing notice should not condemn a candidate

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