All summer, Forest Grove-based Stimson Lumber
has been pouring money
into an independent Republican group called the Oregon Transformation Project Political Action Committee
, trying to turn Clackamas County into a GOP stronghold and break the Oregon House's 30-to-30 deadlock.
Oregon Transformation Project has started spending that money in the House District 28
race—with an attack on Rep. Jeff Barker
(D-Aloha) that doubles as a slap at government-employee pensions.
Barker's campaign says the mailer showed up Thursday at a constituent's home in Beaverton."Jeff Barker says he wants to retire..."
the mailer reads, quoting Barker's several intimations that his current legislative term would be his last. It continues: "...and if you had a government-funded pension worth more than $100,000 a year
to retire on, wouldn't you?"
Barker is a former Portland cop, and gets a pension from the Portland Fire & Police Disability & Retirement Fund. He says his annual benefits are significantly less than $100,000.
"My pension's not anywhere near that," Barker says. "They're just making it up. They're just lying."
Barker says Oregon Transformation Project is trying to seize on public anger over increased employer contribution rates to the state's Public Employees Retirement System.
"Public pensions are a hot topic right now, PERS," Barker says. "They're insinuating I have PERS, even though I don't."
Bridget Barton, a spokeswoman for Third Century Solutions, which is running Oregon Transformation Project's campaigns, confirms they produced the mailer.
She says Barker is eligible for three pensions
: FPD&R, a state police pension, and a PERS pension from serving in the legislature.
"He's earning a pension right now," Barton says. "He hasn't declined it."
Barker also says the mailer's insinuation that he "wants to spend even more time in Arizona" is wrong.
“I vacationed in Arizona with my dad and sister in my dad’s brand new 1955 Dodge,” Barker says. “I was twelve.”
Barker's challenger for the District 28 seat, businessman Manuel Castaneda
, forwarded WW
's calls to Oregon Transformation Project. The full mailer is shown below.
Oregon Transformation Project mailer, front
Oregon Transformation Project mailer, back