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October 22nd, 2008 COREY PEIN | News Stories
 

Schmoozing And Shredding

Oregon’s most bizarre campaign spending.

     
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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:

FITTING EXPENSES

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.

EUPHEMISMS GALORE

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.

BAD INVESTMENTS

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.

PIGGY BANKING

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.

ADVERTISEMENTS FOR MYSELF

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:

GOLF: $82,132

CANDY: $3,383

CASINOS: $3,379

BANK FEES: $14,414

Quick Picks


Here’s a summary of our endorsements.

Federal

President: BARACK OBAMA

US Senate: JEFF MERKLEY

First Congressional District DAVID WU

Third Congressional District EARL BLUMENAUER

Fifth Congressional District KURT SCHRADER

State
Treasurer ALLEN ALLEY

Sec of State KATE BROWN

Attorney General JOHN KROGER

Labor Commissioner BRAD AVAKIAN

State measures
54 Voter eligibility in school elections YES

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

City Council
AMANDA FRITZ
Multnomah County
Sheriff BOB SKIPPER

Commissioner, District 3 MIKE DELMAN

Commissioner, District 4 CARLA PILUSO

Legislature
Senate 14 MARK HASS

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

Local initiatives
26-94 Portland children’s levy YES

26-95 Portland Community College bond YES

26-96 Oregon Zoo levy NO

26-97 Centennial bond YES

 
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