A formal elections complaint, filed today with the state of Oregon and Multnomah County, argues County Commissioner Loretta Smith is campaigning for City Hall in violation of the county charter and has blown past the limits on campaign donations approved by county voters last year.
Seth Woolley, secretary of the Pacific Green Party of Oregon, filed the complaint.
Smith is toeing the line set by the county charter, WW first reported last month.
The charter doesn't allow her to run for another office until Jan. 1, the final year of her term as county commissioner. Smith, who announced in September that she plans to run for retiring City Commissioner Dan Saltzman's seat next year, hasn't officially filed to run, but is fundraising and has a website up.
But Woolley says that fundraising amounts to running for office, and that Smith is violating the county charter.
"Given the significant recent campaign activity to Ms. Smith's candidate committee campaign account, it is reasonable to determine that she is running as a candidate for some elective office other than the one the campaign account is filed for, as she is term limited out of that seat," Woolley writes. "It is also reasonable to assume that she has been telling potential and actual donors to her candidate committee that the funds would be used to run for some other elective office."
Smith's state campaign finance committee is also still registered for her last county race. Woolley says that's a violation in itself since she can't run for reelection because of term limits. And it also makes her subject to the county campaign finance limits imposed by voters last year. The limits place a cap of $500 on individual donations in county elections.
Woolley alleges $14,000 in improper donations.
Those include $1,000 from The Standard, given since WW story on the issue. That donation could cost both Smith and The Standard up to $20,000 in fines alone.
A representative for The Standard defended the donation.
"We have supported Loretta Smith and her MLK Women's Equity Luncheon since its inception years ago, and I would hope many other businesses and individuals are supporting this important event," says spokesman Justin Delaney. "As you know, Smith is not a candidate for the County Commission as she has reached her term limit for that office."
Smith's campaign manager defended her campaign practices.
"This is a rehash of the same baseless accusations Mr. Woolley has already made in the press, reflected by the fact he sent this to the media as soon as it was filed," says campaign manager Jake Weigler. "We have consulted with legal counsel, as well as the County and State, and are confident we are in compliance with the law. We hope Mr. Woolley will join us and focus his energy on solving problems for the most vulnerable in our community. There's no time for political posturing when so many of our neighbors continue to sleep on our streets. Our focus is on offering solutions to these problems–not responding to baseless claims."