State elections officials have found Mayor Charlie Hales' spokesman violated Oregon law by writing a press release on city time that slammed the ballot measure to wrest control of Portland’s water and sewer utilities away from City Hall.
The state today fined Hales spokesman Dana Haynes $150 for writing a Feb. 11 press release that called Measure 26-156's backers "anti-environmental" and said the attempt to create a public water district was an attack on the city's green programs.
"If the facts aren't with you," Haynes quoted Hales in the release, "and the law isn't with you, unlimited corporate money is a wonderful thing."
Backers of the measure complained to the state, and investigators today found the release to be political campaigning. "Read as a whole, the portion of the release related to the measure demonstrates clear opposition to the measure and is therefore not impartial," the citation says.
The measure was soundly rejected by voters in May. Since then, city documents have revealed that its biggest financial backer, Portland Bottling Co., was under investigation for illegally dumping 21 million gallons of wastewater.
The Portland Tribune first reported the state citation against Haynes earlier this afternoon.
This is Haynes' second election law violation—he was found to have made political statements on public time while employed as a spokesman for Portland Community College in 2009.
Haynes, the author of four thrillers, is at a national writers' conference and could not immediately be reached for comment.
The state also informed Hales' policy director Josh Alpert that he was found innocent of a similar complaint by Measure 26-156 backers.