Portland's two publicly financed City Council candidates, Amanda Fritz and Charles Lewis, have proven a huge disappointment for scandal-hungry critics of the controversial program.
Sticklers for procedure, Fritz and Lewis have avoided the candy-jar campaign style that led to the disgrace of Council candidate Emilie Boyles in 2006, when she spent tens of thousands on personal phone bills and the computer-consulting services of her teenage daughter.
But fear not, spending skeptics. The scores of privately financed candidates in Oregon have a lot more leeway as to how they spend campaign cash thanks in part to loopholes left by the state Legislature's last round of ethics "reforms" (see "Ethics Bomb," WW, Dec. 19, 2007). What follows are some of the candidates' odder campaign expenditures this year:
U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), not known for his taste in art or love of rock music, spent $684 on Muzak subscriptions since May.
In August, liberal political consultant Ivan Frishberg declared a $4.95 independent expenditure for ldquo;schmoozing" on behalf of Jeff Merkley, the Democrat (and apparently inadequate gladhander) running against Smith.
In May, Smith spent $58.50 on "recycling" at Shred-It, a "secure document destruction" company in Tualatin.
Before the May primary, U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) listed a $70 "food and beverage" expense from the Oregon Liquor Store at Lloyd Center in his district. This must've been a typo—a clerk at the store confirms that it does not sell any food.
In August, Promote Oregon, the fundraising arm of the Oregon House Republicans, spent $300 to provide speech training to Matt Lindland, who makes his living as a bare-knuckled cage fighter. The training didn't stop Lindland from dropping a few whoppers in his WW endorsement interview. He compared his sport, mixed martial arts, to pornography and noted, "We started before it was legal in the state. It wasn't necessarily illegal, either." Sort of like LSD, back in the day.
State Rep. John Lim (R-Gresham), who's facing a strong challenge from Democrat Greg Matthews, paid Promote Oregon $900 for "website development."
The sad thing: Lim doesn't have a website. CORRECTION: Lim does have a campaign website—our mistake: www.limfororegon.com. We regret the error.
In May, Portland Commissioner Randy Leonard easily won re-election, beating three virtually unknown opponents. Since winning the May primary, Leonard has used his war chest to support other candidates, and to cover expenses he couldn't charge to the city. Leonard has dropped $180 on tickets to a Portland Timbers game at PGE Park with team owner Merritt Paulson, who's pushing for a new Major League Soccer stadium here and a baseball-only park in Lents; charged $852 for calls on his Sprint phone; and claimed $1,637 in "accumulated mileage. " Leonard says the mileage was all incurred during the campaign, and his campaign fund is not a piggy bank. "I use it for things my job requires me to do," he says.
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Brad Avakian, who was appointed state labor commissioner in March, is spending even bigger on a non-campaign to keep his new job. Avakian faces two "opponents": Mark Welyczko, who pulled just 5 percent of the vote in a half-assed primary challenge to U.S. Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.); and Pavel Goberman, an anti-communist fitness nut. (Goberman, a perennial candidate, was most recently seen at a Portland City Council meeting, complaining that he was denied a concealed weapons permit.)
Yet Avakian has paid campaign manager Michael Clarke, a veteran of congressional campaigns in Ohio and New Jersey, nearly $60,000, plus reimbursements. Clarke is "worth every penny," says Avakian. "I need him to get my name ID up around the state."
Avakian says polling revealed about 7 percent of voters statewide knew his name. Might Goberman, who has run for various offices since 2000, have better name recognition than the sitting labor commissioner? "I bet he does," says Avakian. "Which hopefully doesn't translate to a win for him."
MINIMUM OREGON 2008 CAMPAIGN SPENDING ON:
BANK FEES: $14,414
Here's a summary of our endorsements.
President: BARACK OBAMA
US Senate: JEFF MERKLEY
First Congressional District DAVID WU
Third Congressional District EARL BLUMENAUER
Fifth Congressional District KURT SCHRADER
Sec of State KATE BROWN
Attorney General JOHN KROGER
Labor Commissioner BRAD AVAKIAN
54 Voter eligibility in school elections
55 Redistricting YES
56 Double majority changes YES
57 Prison sentences (legislative version) YES
58 English-language instruction limits NO
59 Increased state tax deductions NO
60 Merit pay for teachers NO
61 Prison sentences NO 62 Lottery money set-aside NO
63 Building permit exemptions NO
64 Payroll deduction restrictions NO
65 Open primary YES
Commissioner, District 3 MIKE DELMAN
Commissioner, District 4 CARLA PILUSO
Senate 18 GINNY BURDICK
Senate 25 LAURIE MONNES-ANDERSON
House 26 JESSICA ADAMSON
House 27 TOBIAS READ
House 29 CHUCK RILEY
House 30 DAVID EDWARDS
House 33 MITCH GREENLICK
House 34 CHRIS HARKER
House 35 LARRY GALIZIO
House 36 MARY NOLAN
House 37 SCOTT BRUUN
House 38 STEVE GRIFFITH
House 39 TOBY FORSBERG
House 41 CAROLYN TOMEI
House 42 JULES KOPEL-BAILEY
House 45 MICHAEL DEMBROW
House 49 JOHN NELSEN
House 50 GREG MATTHEWS
House 51 BRENT BARTON
House 52 SUZANNE VANORMAN
26-94 Portland children's levy
26-95 Portland Community College bond YES
26-96 Oregon Zoo levy NO
26-97 Centennial bond YES