The Democratic Party of Oregon today filed an official election complaint against Lou Ogden, a Republican running for state labor commissioner, alleging that he misrepresented himself as an incumbent in campaign materials.
That's a problem, the DPO says, because Ogden has never been labor commissioner and is running against a Democrat for an open seat.
The complaint says Ogden misleads voters in campaign ads by saying "As the Labor Commissioner, it's my responsibility to make sure…" It also objects to lawn signs and a logo that say "Lou Ogden, Commissioner, Bureau of Labor & Industries," but do not mention voting or the election in any explicit way.
The complaint comes in what has thus far been an unusually contentious and partisan race for a nonpartisan state-wide office.
Supporters of Ogden's Democratic opponent, Val Hoyle, created a Facebook page questioning the Tualatin mayor's judgement after he allowed a tenant to stay in his home for 18 months after sheriff's deputies seized the renter's laptop in a child pornography investigation. The social media attack ad led to a surprisingly volatile back-and-forth between the candidates at a WW endorsement interview last week.
Ogden disputes the DPO's claims. He said in a written statement that he is following the law:
“Nothing in ORS 260.550 says that a candidate must use the word “for” on political signage. The law says you can’t claim to be the incumbent. Nowhere have I done that. Lack of the word “for” on a yard sign or Facebook is not a claim of incumbency and falls under the protection of Article I, Section XIII of the Oregon constitution free speech clause. Voters who are all getting voter pamphlet statements this week can clearly confirm I am not the incumbent when they see my occupational background is Mayor of Tualatin, small business owner, and family farmer. Moreover, in our TV ads, written in clear, bold letters, I am titled as Mayor of Tualatin, Candidate for Bureau of Labor and Industries Commissioner (BOLI). I specifically wanted to be titled my ads as such because voters in our polling show a clear preference for my non-partisan experience running a busy suburban city to Val Hoyle’s hyper-partisan activities as the former Democratic majority leader. Former Secretary of State Atkins should stop playing politics and grasping at straws on behalf of Hoyle. Atkins has ruined her reputation engaging in this kind of political hackery as leader of the Democratic Party since she’s left office. Voters are sick of her shenanigans and waste of taxpayer dollars filing these kinds of baseless complaints.”