QANON SPOTTED AT CAPITOL RALLY: A Feb. 6 rally against carbon cap legislation drew a convoy of tractor-trailers and logging trucks to the Capitol in Salem. State Sen. Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer) used the Timber Unity rally to announce her candidacy for Oregon secretary of state. Also present? Proponents of several conspiracy theories and fringe movements. Protesters came dressed in the regalia of the Three Percenters, a right-wing anti-government militia, and carried signs decrying government efforts to increase childhood vaccination rates. Protesters also unveiled a banner with the slogan "Where we go one, we go all." That's a motto of the conspiracy theory QAnon, which contends without evidence that the Democratic Party is connected to a child sex trafficking ring. Former state Rep. Julie Parrish (R-West Linn) says Timber Unity does not support such messaging. "We're very clear with our folks: We're here for one issue, and one issue alone," she tells WW. "The Capitol steps are a free speech zone, but they're not part of our group."
GREG SMITH CROSSES THE AISLE: State Rep. Greg Smith (R-Heppner) raised eyebrows in the Capitol last week when he introduced House Bill 4045 to require capital projects that get tax breaks (such as server and wind turbine farms) to pay prevailing wages. That's usually a Democratic priority and was the subject of a legislative work group last year—a group that didn't include Smith. Smith says he introduced the bill at the behest of the Oregon Building Trades Council, a client of the Pac/West lobbying firm. As WW has reported, Smith formed an unusual business partnership with Pac/West on a project in Linn County. Smith says there's nothing untoward about him introducing the legislation. "I introduced this bill on behalf of my brothers and sisters in the trades," says Smith, who adds that he grew up in a union household. State Rep. Jeff Barker (D-Aloha), chairman of the House Business and Labor Committee, says the bill does not have the support of legislative leadership.
AMBASSADOR FOR HIRE: Portland's star witness in the impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump lost his job last week. Just two days after the U.S. Senate voted to acquit Trump, he abruptly fired Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. Prior to moving to Brussels, Sondland served as founder, CEO and chairman of Provenance Hotels, which owns or operates five hotels in Portland. Sondland's Nov. 20 testimony revealed a "clear quid pro quo" at play in the administration's efforts to withhold military aid to Ukraine in exchange for an investigation of the Biden family. Observers called Sondland's testimony a bombshell highly damaging to Trump. Last week's announcement suggests Trump agreed. A spokesman for Sondland said he was traveling and could not be reached to discuss what he'll do next.
CORRECTION ON DEPORTATION STORY: Last week, WW wrote about Trinidad Marcial Lorenzo, a Portland man facing deportation who is being held at an immigration detention center in Tacoma, Wash. ("Family, Separated," Feb. 5, 2020). The story incorrectly stated Lorenzo had no criminal history in Oregon. In fact, he was convicted in 2012 for theft, a class C misdemeanor, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. His attorney, Sara Varnado, tells WW the conviction does not undermine Lorenzo's case to stay in the U.S., but it could affect a judge's perception of his "good moral standing," one of the criteria he must meet to have his deportation canceled. Lorenzo now awaits a hearing, Varnado says.