Oregon Justice Department Serves Portland Marathon With a Court Order to Show Its Use of Nonprofit Funds

Questions persist about management at the nonprofit that oversees the race.

The Oregon Department of Justice has issued a court order to the Portland Marathon, demanding to see its financial and governance documents.

The investigation by Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum is focused on the nonprofit's use of funds, the June 20 court order says. (Disclosure: Rosenblum is married to the co-owner of WW's parent company.)

"The purpose of this investigation is to find out whether there has been a violation of the Oregon Charitable Trust and Corporations Act…the Oregon Nonprofit Corporations Act…or common law," reads part of the court order Portland Marathon was served via mail.

The court order comes nearly two weeks after city officials denied the marathon a permit, citing six months of failed negotiations over a route that would require fewer police officers on duty at the event. That denial, first reported by WW, threw the 45-year tradition into limbo and raised questions about the management of the nonprofit that oversees the race.

KGW-TV reported last week that the DOJ had opened a probe into the Portland Marathon for potential conflicts of interests between the non-profit's two board members and a for-profit event company called Next Events.

Oregon law requires non-profits have at least three board members—Les Smith and Mamie Wheeler are Portland Marathon's only two. On top of that, Wheeler and Smith are the CEOs of Next Events, a company that boasts a partnership with the Portland Marathon on its website.

Smith did not immediately return calls from WW seeking comment.

A total of 13 types of documents—including transcripts of board meetings, records of compensation or reimbursement to board directors, budget reports, and contributions to other charitable organizations—are being requested by the DOJ.

Portland Marathon has until Wednesday, July 26, to produce the documents to the DOJ investigator assigned to the case.