Mayoral candidate Charlie Hales picked an unusual time to start paying back his campaign debts: immediately after he'd set limits on how much money he could raise for the November election.
Among Hales' biggest backers has been Rejuvination, Inc. chief executive James Kelly, who loaned $25,000 to the campaign—and donated another $25,000—before the May 15 primary.
On June 21, Hales announced he would limit campaign contributions to $600. The next day, state campaign finance records show, Hales repaid the full amount of Kelly's loan. (The repayment wasn't publicly recorded until last week because candidates are currently in a 30-day reporting window.)
Hales, who has made a low six-figure salary as a vice president for HDR, Inc., since leaving the City Council in 2002, also personally loaned his campaign $100,000 before the primary. On June 25, he repaid himself $25,000 from the campaign account.
Candidates often wait until after an election, win or lose, to pay back loans from supporters.
"When I came on staff we decided that if we were going to take the campaign finance pledge—which we all wanted to do—we needed to pay off some of the primary debt," Hales campaign manager Evyn Mitchell, who joined the staff last month, tells WW.
Later, in an emailed statement, Mitchell elaborated:
We raised money specifically to deal with Primary debts because they have a timeline involved. The campaign borrowed $25K from Jim Kelly in the Primary and agreed to return the money by July 1st, which is what we did. As for the money paid back to Charlie, it was a partial repayment for his loan to the campaign in the Primary, which he borrowed and agreed to pay back over time.
Besides Kelly and Hales, the campaign has booked no other loans.
Hales faces State Rep. Jefferson Smith (D-East Portland) in the November mayoral election.