December 6th, 2010 5:33 pm | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Politics, Sports, Sports, Sports

Phil Knight: Puzzled by Oregon Politics


Today's Oregonian features a lengthy interview with Nike co-founder Phil Knight, in the wake of the University of Oregon's 37-20 football victory over Oregon State University on Saturday.

In past years, the Nike chairman has given tens of millions to U of O athletic programs and also been unusually politically active. He contributed $770,000 to a variety of causes and candidates since last October, according to state filings. (The top individual Democratic donor, Sherwood winemaker Eric Lemelson, gave $558,000 over the same period).

Knight gave $400,000 to unsuccessful GOP gubernatorial candidate Chris Dudley and another $150,000 to Oregonians Against Job-Killing Taxes, the group that opposed two successful January income tax increases. In his interview with Oregonian reporter Allan Brettman, Knight ruefully referred to an Oregonian op-ed he contributed in opposition to those measures.
Q: Will the football team's success help in the Legislature as well?

A: That is hard for me (pause) I'm the last person you should ask that. I'm the one who wrote the op-ed piece in your newspaper which was going to help swing the vote on taxes here. And polls went down, you know, 50 percent worst after my op-ed piece. I can't figure those political people out.

Now that campaign season is over, it's easy to imagine a bevy of under-employed political consultants writing to Knight, offering to decode Oregon politics for him—and for a whole lot less than Ducks football coach Chip Kelly makes.
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