First-term Rep. Jefferson Smith
(D-Portland) is up for re-election next year. And like most lawmakers, he's in the process of raising money.
Earlier this week Smith, who founded the Oregon Bus Project
, sent scores of lobbyists invitations to a
fundraiser on Oct. 29. (Smith notes there is no charge for entry to the event "Some will give more [than $500], some will give less, some might give nothing," he says).
That's a pretty standard way for legislators to collect checks. But Smith sent the invitation from his state email address and that is unusual because lawmakers are not supposed to use state resources for political purposes.
"Fundraiser invitations sent via legislative email accounts is completely inappropriate," says Janice Thompson of
Democracy Reform Common Cause Oregon
, a non-partisan watchdog group.
Asked about the email, Smith concurred with Thompson.
"It should indeed not be the standard, should not be my standard, isn't what we intended to do, and won't be what we do going forward," Smith told WW
. "I've talked to my staff about making sure this never happens again. We should be using my personal account as the default email, and I am making sure to train the team accordingly."
Here's the original fund-raising message Smith sent:
From: Rep Smith J [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Monday, October 12, 2009 9:51 AM
Subject: Reception for Rep. Jefferson Smith
Rep. Jefferson Smith Fundraiser
Thursday, October 29, 2009
1:00 to 3:00 PM
912 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Portland, Oregon 97214
To RSVP, please contact Dan Miller
480-231-6890 or email@example.com