Another deep-pocketed player has gotten involved in the race to replace Washington County District Attorney Bob Hermann, who is retiring.
The latest entrant: Henry Swigert, the Oregon octogenarian steel company heir who funded a conservative political action committee called ActionPAC.
New filings show he's given nearly $50,000 to Kevin Barton, Hermann's hand-picked successor.
District attorney's races are rarely competitive in Oregon but Washington County has become a battleground in the national debate over criminal justice reform.
Under Hermann, the Washington County DA's office built a stiff law-and-order reputation, once holding a material witness (who had not been charged with a crime) for 900 days.
Barton, Hermann's chief deputy, entered the race to succeed his boss last September.
In most cases, having been chief deputy and running with the support of 15 sitting district attorneys, as Barton is doing, would be enough to scare off any competition. But amid a national debate about the appropriate level of incarceration, reformers—funded in part by New York billionaire investor George Soros and speaking locally through the ACLU of Oregon—have targeted key DA races around the country.
As WW previously reported, a political action committee associated with Soros has spent big money—$210,000 so far—to support Max Wall, a former prosecutor-turned-defense lawyer the reformers recruited to oppose Barton.
Barton countered initially with $25,000 from Nike co-founder Phil Knight. And this week, ActionPAC, a new group funded with $250,000 from Swigert, the scion of the family that founded the ESCO Corporation, gave Barton $49,741.
Barton has now raised $107,000 and has $76,000 on hand. Wall has raised $275,000, including about $230,000 from the Soros-related PAC. He has $15,000 on hand.