Mark Nelson, a lobbyist who represents Deschutes County as well as
many other clients, has long been considered one of the top lobbyists
in Salem. But now, he says, he is facing retribution from House
Speaker Dave Hunt, D-Clackamas County, and other Democrats. Nelson
says they have urged clients to drop him because he co-led the
campaign opposing Measures 66 and 67, two proposals recently approved
by voters that boost taxes on corporations and high-income earners.
Nelson also says a bill he was working on was dropped in part because
of the perception that Nelson's involvement doomed it to failure.
“This was a campaign,” Nelson said. “We lost the campaign. But (Hunt)
seems to be just sort of hell-bent on making people who supported the
‘no' side of the campaign pay.”
House leaders say the accusations are baseless.
In an interview Monday, Hunt admitted that he had advised several of
Nelson's clients that other lobbyists would be more effective. And he
said he has heard that other lawmakers have given similar advice about
anti-tax advocates who also lobby.
However, he says he only gave advice when groups asked for it. “I just
try to give them my honest assessment of how I think the legislative
process plays out,” he said.
But the best part is a voicemail Nolan left for Chandler:
Nelson and several other lobbyists point to a voice mail that Jon
Chandler, a lobbyist for the Oregon Home Builders Association,
received from House Majority Leader Mary Nolan, D-Portland. Chandler,
a leader in the opposition campaign against the tax measures, had
written an Op-Ed in The Oregonian last July criticizing top Democrats.
Two days later he received a voice mail. According to a recording of
the voice mail that is being circulated among lobbyists, Nolan said.
“Hey Chandler ... I somehow managed to miss your retirement
announcement. When did you decide you were going to drop out of the
lobbying business? Let me know if there's a farewell party; I
certainly wouldn't want to miss it. Stay in touch. Thanks.”