Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg Contributes $250,000 to Secretary of State Candidate Val Hoyle

Billionaire rewards former House majority leader for gun control bill.

State Rep. Val Hoyle (D-Eugene), one of three candidates in the Democratic primary for secretary of state, has reported another extremely large contribution.

Last week, Hoyle reported a $100,000 check from Emily's List—the Washington, D.C.-based political action committee that supports female candidates.

Neither of her opponents, Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian or state Sen. Richard Devlin (D-Tualatin) has reported a contribution of larger than $20,000.

On May 6, Hoyle reported what appears to be the biggest individual contribution ever in an Oregon secretary of state's race, disclosing a $250,000 contribution from media magnate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg made his fortune leasing financial information terminals to Wall Street bankers and has become the nation's largest funder of gun control legislation.

For a man whose net worth Forbes pegs at $44 billion, a $250,000 check is barely pocket change, but Bloomberg's check is largest to any candidate in any Oregon race this cycle.

Howard Wolfson, a spokesman for Bloomberg, says the former mayor is going to bat for Hoyle because of her role in passing a 2015 gun bill. Hoyle then served as House majority leader and was the person responsible for rounding up enough votes to pass legislation in the House.

Senate Bill 941 was unusually contentious, requiring three votes on the Senate floor and five on the House floor before passage.

Afterwards, angry gun rights supports launched recall efforts against Hoyle and three other lawmakers. None was successful.

"Mike is supporting Val Hoyle because her leadership in passing Oregon's background check bill is truly notable," Wolfson tells WW in an email. "No one in the country has worked harder —or more successfully—to take on the NRA than she has."

There is some irony in the big check, however. Like her opponents, Hoyle has pledged to rein in Oregon's unlimited campaign finance spending, saying if elected to the office that oversees elections, she'll "get big money out of politics."

"Val is committed to reducing the influence of money in campaigns and empowering the voices of everyday Oregonians," she writes on her campaign website.

Cody Chasteen, Hoyle's campaign manager, says Hoyle's acceptance of big out-of-state checks is a recognition of how things are, rather than how she'd like them to be.

"Val is running against two politicians who have been in office for a combined total of 43 years. In this time these men have raised millions from donors, and right now all the candidates are adhering to the laws that Oregon has in place," Chasteen says. "Val is committed to working with Governor Brown and the legislature to implement publicly financed campaigns and campaign finance limits."

With the contribution, Hoyle's cash on hand jumps to $255,000; Devlin has $192,000 and Avakian has $72,000.

Ballots are due by 8 pm on May 17.

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