When a couple of Republicans crossed party lines to help pass the majority Democrats pass income tax increases at the end of the 2009 legislative session, GOP insiders filed
an ethics complaint (quickly dismissed) against House Democratic leaders for enticing Rep. Greg Smith
(R-Heppner) to vote for the tax hike.
There was also talk then that the GOP would seek an opponent to challenge Smith, a five-term incumbent, in the 201o Republican primary. That would be an unusual step and one that could divert scarce party resources from the larger task of trying to regain control of the House, which Republicans controlled from 1991 through 2005.
But an email (below) from Salem lobbyist Paulette Pyle, who represents agricultural interests, including the group Oregonians for Food and Shelter
, makes it clear that Smith is a marked man. (The fate of the other man who crossed the GOP, Rep. Bob Jenson
(R-Pendleton) is unclear).
Here's Pyle's message:
Subject: FW: Join Paulette for lunch on Thursday, September 24th
Date: Thu, 17 Sep 2009 16:11:06 -0700
September 17, 2009
Do you remember Representative Greg Smith's "yes" vote for the personal income tax? We have a solution! But your help is needed.
We have all been very busy gathering signatures to overturn the C-Corp. and personal tax bills passed by the legislature. I believe it is time to bring us all together to meet a candidate who would have never voted for the personal tax or corporate tax, as her Representative, Greg Smith did.
Most of us told our legislative friends that raising taxes was crazy, especially when our unemployment and economic conditions are so bleak. Oregon is first in homelessness; second in hunger and now back to second or third, depending on the month - in unemployment. I have been contacted by many OFS members in Rep. Greg Smith's district. As they were working hard, two of their Eastern Oregon legislators stubbornly supported the passage of these taxes. And many in their districts promised they would strive to engage in a primary fight against them. Actually, after spending our summer working with volunteers gathering signatures coupled with raising hard- to-come-by dollars to overturn these taxes, we should be even more determined to help a candidate that we can rely on to never vote to increase a permanent, retro-active tax again.
How fortunate we are to have been able to recruit a candidate to run against Representative Greg Smith. Her name is Colleen MacLeod. If you haven't meet Colleen you will discover that we found the best possible Republican to seek this seat in the 2010 election. You may know Colleen from her role as a Union County Commissioner for 12 years. You may also know Colleen from her role as a field representative with Congressman Greg Walden. When you meet her, you will be impressed with her no-nonsense approach to politics and her energized personality which is very refreshing. She will be a treat to meet and visit with. I am hosting a luncheon for Colleen next Thursday, September 24th here in Salem and would like to invite you to meet and visit with her. She has filed her PAC, she is putting together her team and is raising in-district
money as we speak. The lunch will be held at the OR Homebuilders Association conference room in Salem at 12:00 while we talk with Colleen about her race.
I do not need to tell you that this is an important election. Overturning these taxes in January is paramount and it is equally important to replace as many legislators as possible who supported these tax measures. A good place to begin is to support the candidate who has stepped up to run against Greg Smith. I'm enclosing a newspaper ad that the unions placed in Representatives Greg Smith and Bob Jenson's districts shortly after the legislature passed these egregious tax measures. As you can see, the Unions are praising and thanking them for their vote. I encourage you to read it, if you haven't already. It won't shock you, but it will remind you of how much support the Unions will be sending Greg's way.
Please RSVP to Sandi in my office by calling 503-370-8092 or emailing her at email@example.com. We need to encourage Colleen. She aims to demonstrate to all legislators by winning this campaign, that her constituents are her boss, not the other way around. Greg believes he was sent to Salem to cut deals with the Democrat leadership and the Governor at the expense of his constituents. My former boss, Congressman Steve Symms use to say, "I am not Santa Claus. I can't give you anything that I don't first take away from you." We will follow up with you to confirm your attendance at this
important meeting. I truly need your help on this and would consider your attendance a personal favor. Together we can elect someone who we can rely on to advance Oregon's economy by standing up for their hard-working, tax paying constituency instead of being co-opted.
House GOP spokesman Nick Smith declined to comment on the email
or whether the caucus will stand behind Rep. Smith, who's no relation to Nick Smith.
Updated at 4:48 with clarification from Nick Smith. "While various individuals and groups are involved in supporting Smith's primary opponent, our caucus is not involved (and has never been involved) in any effort to unseat Smith," says the spokesman for the House Republicans.