Triton, a bail company owned by the Portland-based private-equity firm Endeavour Capital, has given almost $800,000 to a campaign to repeal California's law eliminating cash bail, according to the Washington Post.
California Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law on Aug. 28. It will go into effect in October 2019, unless the current campaign gathers the 365,880 signatures necessary to put the measure on the 2020 ballot and delay implementation until the vote.
Triton, which operates under the name Aladdin Bail Bonds, sells bail bonds to individuals who can't afford to pay bail while they await trial. If the law California lawmakers passed this year is enacted, the need for bail bonds would disappear, putting Endeavour's investment in Triton at risk.
Oregon's pension system has invested $95 million in the Endeavour Capital fund that in turn wereinvested in Triton, according to The Oregonian.
At an Oregon Investment Council meeting on Sept. 19, the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon urged the council, which manages the state's pension funds, to stop investing in Endeavour until they withdraw investments from the bail bond industry.
"From an investment perspective, the prognosis doesn't seem great. [Triton] will now have to spend millions of dollars to protect themselves, and really, just to try to stay alive," ACLU of Oregon executive director David Rogers said. "Their success will be measured by their ability to defeat and repeal much-needed reforms across the country."
The OIC took no action on that request.
The ACLU of California originally supported the bill banning cash bail, but withdrew its support a week before the bill was signed into law. A joint statement from the executive directors of ACLU California affiliates read, in part, "As much as we would welcome an end to the predatory lending practices of the for-profit bail industry, [this bill] cannot promise a system with a substantial reduction in pretrial detention."
Oregon is among the few states to prohibit commercial bail bonds.
Endeavour co-founder John E. von Schlegell told the Post that Endeavour has not taken a stance on the proposed ballot measure. "We do support the company's goal to continue to operate (legally and ethically) in California," von Schlegell said.