Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery. But sometimes, as this week’s Rogue demonstrates, imitation can morph into borrowing another group’s credibility.
For the past three election cycles, Our Oregon, a union-backed advocacy group, has published a voters’ guide and mailed it to hundreds of thousands of voters.
The publication (see this year’s version at defendoregon.org) evaluates ballot measures and identifies the positions that various groups have taken on them.
But this year, opponents of Ballot Measure 75, which would plunk a Las Vegas-sized casino in Wood Village, appropriated the layout and look of Our Oregon’s previous voter’s guides.
The design and font of the anti-casino publication is virtually identical to Our Oregon’s 2008 guide, down to the language on the mailer’s front cover:
“Simple and clear information and recommendations for Oregon voters,” reads Our Oregon’s 2008 guide.
“Simple and clear information for Oregon voters,” reads the 2010 guide, paid for by the committee called “Vote No on 75—it’s a bad idea.”
Our Oregon spokesman Scott Moore says the casino opponents’ mailing is roguish for two reasons: First, the mailer mimics Our Oregon’s design so closely that voters may think the communication comes from his group when it does not.
It would be in casino opponents’ interest to create that confusion because Our Oregon’s endorsements express the view of unions and nonprofits who represent hundreds of thousands of voters.
“Voters have told us in the past that our guides are very useful to them because they identify where groups they trust stand on ballot measures,” Moore says. “Now, along comes a cheap imitation, almost a carbon copy, that risks reducing the value of what we do going forward.”
Second, while the No on 75 mailer urges a “no” vote, Our Oregon is neutral on the casino measure.
Casino opponents, largely financed by Native American tribes who don’t want competition for the gambling dollar, call Our Oregon’s claims “absurd.”
“Are you kidding?” asks Justin Martin, a Grand Ronde tribal spokesman. “There’s no duplication here. I’m worried about getting voters to vote ‘no’ and they’re worried about their brand? Gimme a break.”
WW also opposes the casino measure (see a list of all our endorsement opinions here), but thinks opponents are using the equivalent of a marked deck with this mailing.