Drug Policy Alliance Donates $30,000 to District Attorney Mike Schmidt’s Reelection Campaign

Despite receiving his biggest check yet, Schmidt is struggling to compete financially with his competitor Nathan Vasquez.

District Attorney Mike Schmidt. (Mick Hangland-Skill)

The Drug Policy Alliance, the deep-pocketed drug policy reform group that backed Oregon’s drug-decriminalizing Measure 110, has given Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt his biggest contribution yet in his bid to retain the office.

Last weekend’s $30,000 infusion gives Schmidt a much-needed boost going into this May’s election. An advocacy group has blanketed the Portland area in billboards attacking the incumbent DA, and he’s raised much less than his competitor, Nathan Vasquez, a longtime county prosecutor who’s looking to unseat his boss. Schmidt has now raised just over $330,000, compared to Vasquez’s $530,000.

Both Schmidt and Measure 110 face an uncertain future.

Legislators are closing in on a deal to recriminalize possession of small amounts of drugs, rolling back the key reform at the heart of Measure 110. And Schmidt, who ran as a progressive reformer, is now facing a challenger who promises to reverse many of his policies.

“The Drug Policy Alliance is the leading organization in the U.S. working to end the drug war,” it says on its website. The New York-based group spent millions pushing for the passage of Measure 110 in 2020.

Schmidt, whose office is currently negotiating with legislators over the fate of Measure 110, has declined to tell WW his position on recriminalization. Accepting a check from an out-of-state group that funded a now-controversial experiment could land awkwardly with voters frustrated by Portland street conditions.

“I think you’ll continue to see a lot of support for Mike from people who think the decadeslong war on drugs approach was a failure and that we need evidence-based approaches to accountability and increased treatment options—even from groups that don’t 100% agree with Mike’s stances—because Vasquez’s policies are so extreme and such a step backwards,” says Schmidt’s campaign spokesman, Andrew Rogers.

“Schmidt is in the pocket of out-of-state special interests who are using Portland as an experiment,” Vasquez said in response. “Portland deserves a district attorney who will address the drug crisis with both compassion and accountability, not one who will act as a pawn for out-of-state interests while threatening the safety of our families and our community.”

While $30,000 is the biggest check to be written to either candidate, it is nowhere near the largest donation. That honor goes to $70,000 in downtown “office space rent” given to Vasquez last summer by Portland real estate developer Greg Goodman.

This article has been updated with a statement from Nathan Vasquez.

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