The Multnomah County Republican Party today filed a formal complaint asking for an investigation of Portland Commissioner Chloe Eudaly's new initiative to send city workers out on the taxpayer dime to encourage people to vote.
It's against the law for public employees to campaign for or against a candidate or measure, but not against the law for public employees to encourage people to vote, as Eudaly says she will do.
The initiative, first reported last week by WW, has raised questions—in part because who turns out to vote and where can affect the outcome of an election.
The Republicans, who filed the first formal request for an investigation about the initiative today with the Multnomah County Tax Conservation Commission, say Eudaly is playing politics.
"This is a transparently partisan misuse of City funds to aid Kate Brown's losing campaign, " says county party chair James Buchal in a statement.
But the complaint takes issue with the initiative on more technical grounds: "As far as we know, door-to-door political activity of this nature is not within the job descriptions of the employees involved, and there have been no funds in the City budget allocated for this purpose," write Buchal and nine other Portland taxpayers in the letter dated October 29.
Eudaly's staff say they have taken steps to ensure the effort is nonpartisan and within the law, including taking information for fliers from the secretary of state's office and using "an objective metric–voter participation from previous elections" to determine which voter precincts will be targeted.
"Our city attorneys looked at the political activities statute and confirmed that this GOTV effort is legal because this is a neutral information-sharing initiative," says Eudaly staffer Winta Yohannes.