Who’s Trying Convince Republican Voters to Abandon Knute Buehler for a More Conservative Minor-Party Candidate?

A mystery hangs over some attack ads that are being mailed to Republicans.

Right-wing Constitution Party candidate Aaron Auer has spent and raised $0.00 this calendar year, but glossy mailers that feature his photo are landing on voters' doorsteps.

They're an attack on Republican gubernatorial candidate Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend).

"Knute Buehler refuses to protect our unborn children," one mailer says. Another reads: "Knute Buehler keeps attacking our 2nd Amendment rights."

Auer says he didn't send them.

"I just saw them for the first time on the email you sent them; I have no knowledge of it," Auer tells WW. "I'm not a politician. I believe in being honest."

Rep. Julie Parrish (R-West Linn), who is also a Republican political consultant, says she has traced the permit number to a vendor often used by the Democratic Party of Oregon.

"This is really disgusting and dirty tactic," says Parrish. "The mailer doesn't say who it came from, even though we know it came from Democrats supporting Kate Brown. It's a fear tactic."

It might be an effective strategy. Buehler has cast himself as a moderate—including on abortion—at the risk of alienating more conservative supporters.

A mailer that does not identify its source is possible because Oregon repealed its disclosure requirement for political advertising in 2001.

The revelation of the mailer comes a day after the Independent Party candidate dropped out of the governor's race, citing the need for campaign finance reform and Brown's support.

The Democratic Party of Oregon denied vociferously any involvement in the flier.

"We have absolutely nothing to do with this," says DPO spokeswoman Molly Woon. "Our mail goes through a thorough vetting process. This is the first we've seen of this."

Brown's campaign also denied knowledge of how the mailer came into existence.

Morel Ink, the vendor who contracts with the Democrats among other clients, says its involvement was limited to getting the mailer out the door.

"Those were from a client we work with on the East Coast," says Morel's Scott Ballo, adding the mailers "are definitely not something we did the content" for.

Ballo provided contact information for Westerleigh Concepts in New Jersey.

Evan Presser, whose name Ballo provided, said he was on another line and asked for a call back at a later time. He did not respond to a subsequent text and voicemail.