A Virtually Invisible Political Party Reels in a Whopper of a Donation

Now the question is how will the Working Families Party of Oregon spend its windfall.

VOTE BY SCOOTER: May 2022 primary election in Portland. (Motoya Nakamura / Multnomah County)




Working Families Party of Oregon PAC


Working Families Party National PAC, Brooklyn, N.Y.


The check is not only one of the largest written in Oregon politics this year, it’s also one of the most mysterious.

The Working Families Party of Oregon generally keeps a low profile (with 8,387 registered members, it’s the state’s fifth-largest political party), but its political action committee periodically engages in unusual transactions. In 2022, for instance, the PAC recorded a $250,000 contribution from Gloria Page, which it immediately spent on advertising for then-Democratic gubernatorial nominee Tina Kotek. In effect, it acted to cleanse a potentially controversial contribution (not everybody loves Google, co-founded by Page’s son, Larry).

Since then, the party’s PAC has been moribund—it raised less than $8,500 in 2023 and had recorded just $311.66 in contributions this year before scoring the big check from its national affiliate on April 20.

Last year, the Oregon party reaffiliated with the national Working Families Party. It remains affilaited with United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555, which is active on Oregon ballot measures and candidate races, so the money could be headed to campaigns that favor UFCW causes. Political insiders and public records, however, raise another possibility: that the money may be headed to benefit Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt, who has less than a quarter of the cash on hand that his opponent, Nathan Vasquez, does (see “Witness for the Prosecution,” page 9).

The Working Families Party’s national PAC has in the recent past received hefty contributions from PACs funded by two billionaires who support criminal justice reform, i.e., Schmidt’s platform: George Soros’ Democracy PAC and Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg’s Accountable Justice Action Fund. Schmidt’s campaign referred questions to the Working Families Party of Oregon, which plans to use the money for the primary but did not say how.

The mystery should be solved soon because, with less than a month to go before the May 21 election, all expenditures must be disclosed within seven days. So, wherever the money goes, it will show up in the state filing system.

Correction: This story originally incorrectly described the Working Families Party of Oregon’s reaffilation with the national party.

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