Gov. Ted Kulongoski announced a number of new appointments this week.
At a time when his predecessor and possible successor, former Gov. John Kitzhaber,
is running on a vision of a "post-partisan" Oregon, a couple of Kulongoski's choices are noteworthy.
He named Larry Campbell,
a Eugene Republican who was Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives in 1991 and 1993 to the Ethics Commission. That's an eye-opener because after leaving the Legislature, Campbell was one of the most powerful lobbyists in Salem and one of the reasons the GOP controlled the House from 1991 through 2005 and the Senate for much of that time. His Victory Group raised many hundreds of thousands of dollars for Republican candidates before his retirement in 2008.
(Ironically, the Ethics Commission fined
General Motors earlier this year for failing to report its Oregon representation by the Victory Group, now run by Campbell's sons).
Another appointment, this one to the embattled
Board of Higher Education, is interesting in the context of the looming January ballot fight over $733 million in new income taxes passed by the 2009 Legislature. Kulongoski named Allyn Ford
, the CEO of Roseburg Forest Products
, one of the state's biggest timber companies, to the Higher Ed board.
Ford brings business experience and geographical diversity to the board but his company is also a big contributor to the campaign to defeat the tax hikes Kulongoski recently signed into law.
Filings with the Secretary of State show that Ford's company contributed
$45,000 to Oregonians Against Job-Killing Taxes on Aug. 17. That's the largest contribution to that committee so far by an individual company and should provide fodder for discussion when the Ford and his new colleagues next discuss the state's anemic higher ed funding.
Ford's appointment irks Defend Oregon, the group that will try to convince Oregonians to preserve the tax increases in January.
"It's unfortunate that Mr. Ford has chosen to invest his company's funds so heavily into defeating these measures. Every education advocate in the state knows that if the tax measures fail, it will have devastating effects on an already damaged education system," says Scott Moore, a spokesman for the group.
Both appointments require confirmation by the Oregon Senate. Kulongoski's spokeswoman was not available for comment.
Updated at 4:56 pm.
Kulongoski spokeswoman Anna Richter Taylor says the Campbell appointment originated with the House Republicans, who were exercising their statutory right to nominate a member of the Ethics Commission. As for Ford, Richter Taylor says Kulongoski has been speaking to him for the past year about an appointment and that short-term political considerations are less important than the experience and perspective Ford brings to the Higher Ed board.
"The governor makes appointments based on the best interests of the board in question," Richter Taylor says. "But he [Kulongoski] remains solidly in support of the tax increases."