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Backers of the Oregon Affordable Housing Measure Turned Down Their Largest Donation (Sort Of)

Backers of a ban on grocery taxes are printing literature in support of Measure 102. The yes-on-102 campaign says they had nothing to do with the literature.

Backers of Measure 103, the Oregon constitutional amendment that would ban taxes on groceries, last week notified another campaign to expect a donation worth $75,480.69.

That would be the largest donation yet for the Affordable Housing for Oregon PAC, which backs Measure 102, a constitutional amendment that would allow public affordable housing bond dollars to be leveraged with private resources to build more housing.

The large donation was "for Printing 'Say Yes' postcards,"  according to an Oct. 19 email sent by Trudy Macadam, who is affiliated with the Northwest Grocery Association, the Northwestern Food Merchants, Inc. as well as the Yes Keep Our Groceries Tax Free campaign. She sent the email to Jef Green, the treasurer for the Affordable Housing for Oregon.

Presumably, backers of the anti-grocery-tax amendment have decided that packaging their pitch for a yes-on-103 vote with a yes-on-102 vote would be advantageous.  (There is no organized opposition to 102 and it is polling well.)

The yes-on-103 campaign didn't respond to requests for comment, so it's not clear if the literature will also advocate for other yes votes beyond measures 102 and 103.

Measure 103 has proved controversial, in part because it would ban a grocery tax when no such tax is currently being proposed; it is drafted broadly; and it would prohibit any future taxes on sodas and other sugary drinks.

A representative for the Affordable Housing for Oregon PAC responded to the email by suggesting the "in-kind" donation wasn't appropriate way to report the donation.

"We have discussed this email with the Affordable Housing for Oregon team, and they have let us know that they did not have advance knowledge of your expenditure, nor did they coordinate with you on this effort," wrote Tammy Lewis, a compliance officer for C & E Systems.

"Accordingly, it might be more appropriate that you report your expenditure as an independent expenditure, rather than an in-kind contribution. Of course we'd suggest consulting your attorney or the Oregon Elections Division to be sure."

Amy Ruiz, who is running the Yes on Measure 102 campaign, says the donation was improperly reported, but the affordable-housing backers are happy for broad support. "It's the measure we can all agree on," she says.

The donation or independent expenditure has not yet been officially recorded in Orestar, the state's campaign-finance database.