Lobbyist Mark Nelson,
who led the unsuccessful campaign against Measures 66 and 67
in January, this morning invited most of Salem's leading business lobbyists to a meeting on March 17.
An email with the subject line "Post 66/67 Contribution Strategy Meeting" went to dozens of representatives from groups such as Associated Oregon Industries, the Portland Business Alliance and other corporate interests who opposed the $727 million tax hikes approved by state voters.
Here's the email:
Sent: Thu, Mar 11, 2010 8:41 am
Subject: Post-66/67 Contribution Strategy Meeting
Please join me and other members of the lobby for a meeting to discuss 2010 contribution strategies.
Please RSVP to this email if you can attend. Lunch will be served.
Wednesday, March 17
Noon to 1 p.m.
Grand Theater Ballroom, 4th Floor
187 High Street NE
Salem, Oregon 97301
Also please bring us a list of bills that have negatively impacted your clients—whether they passed or not—since the 2007 session.
During the Legislature's special session last month, Nelson complained
that some of his clients and other opponents of the measures suffered retribution for their opposition to the tax measures.
Although his email today invites lobbyists to "bring us a list of bills that have negatively impacted your clients—whether they passed or not—since the 2007 session," Nelson downplays the premise that the St. Patrick's Day meeting is an effort to get even with Democrats. (2007 marked the year Democrats won majorities in both legislative chambers.)
"It is just really to gather people together as it relates to the November election," Nelson says. "It's just an attempt to coordinate the activity."
He says some of the lobbyists he invited have met in smaller groups in prior election cycles.
"'Contribution strategy' is probably too narrow a description of what the meeting is about," he says.
Although lobbyists will discuss coordinating campaign contributions now that candidate lists are final for this election, Nelson says he also hopes to coordinate lobbyists' data about the impact of Measures 66 and 67. Specifically, he will seek data about whether, as his campaign claimed, Oregonians will lose jobs and companies will leave the state as a result of the increases. He says he also hopes to lead a discussion of possible fiscal solutions.
"Yes we lost 66 and 67,' Nelson says. "But if we don't solve long-term problems, we're going to be doing this kind of thing [fighting about tax increases] every two years."
Michelle Rossolo —executive director of Future PAC, the Democratic House campaign operation— says the planned business lobbyist summit is unusual. "I've never seen anything like this," Rossolo says.
"If these groups are going to trust Mark Nelson to spend their money, it's going to be a pretty good year for us," Rossolo says.
"I really think that people in Oregon are tired of special interest groups influencing legislative races," she adds. "This is the kind of politics people are tired of."