On Saturday night, Liz Kimmerly continues to pretend she doesn't work for Novick

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Well, well, well...

It sure does seem that we've got a firestorm on our hands. This PDA/Novick endorsement debacle just gets curiouser and curiouser.

There's still no explanation from Liz Kimmerly, the Novick staffer at the center of the controversy.

(If you don't know what I'm talking about, catch up here: "Fake endorsement backfires on Novick campaign operative")

I've been out of town all weekend at a family reunion, but Saturday night's inaugural meeting of the Oregon chapter of the Progressive Democrats of America went ahead as planned.

As planned, that is, except that after I blew the whistle and called the national executive director of the PDA, the meeting downshifted to a meeting in which the endorsement process was merely discussed. (And, btw, after David Steves of the Register-Guard started asking his own questions.)

Ben DuPree attended and blogged about it at Witigonen. (The bolds below are mine...)

Tonight I attended the PDA meeting, which showed me just how problematic this endorsement process has become. If it goes forward, I assert that it will lack legitimacy and will demonstrate just how the Novick campaign attempted to rig an endorsement. It's an ethical mess, and those involved should be ashamed of themselves. We're DEMOCRATS, people! We don't need to adopt the Republican code of ethics here! ...

Am I the only one to feel that an endorsement from this new group, given all that has happened, would damage its reputation? The last thing we need is a new chapter of an important group to be damaged because one campaign (or at least some of its officials) wanted to game the system by driving a new group (that a campaign staffer launched!) to a rushed, almost-certainly partisan endorsement. At least the vote was delayed for a month, but there was no talk about how the membership would approach the endorsement or would organize in any real way. Indeed, once the talk of endorsement was over, everyone just got up and left!

And that's why tonight's event was just a mystifying mess. Nothing substantial happened to organize this new, progressive group; and that's perhaps the worst part of all.

Kevin Kamberg at Preemptive Karma was also there - and he noted that Liz Kimmerly ran the meeting and yet never once noted that she is a senior staffer for the Novick campaign.

Liz Kimmerly's nefarious scheme having been exposed, I attended the PDA meeting last night fully expecting it to be yanked back within the realm of ethical propriety, if for no other reason than to avoid damaging the national PDA's reputation since she had already trampled on numerous of the PDA's guidelines. But there was Liz Kimmerly, her boss Steve Novick and another staffer, all acting as if there was nothing wrong with one of his senior staffers running the meeting of an organizatin he hoped to get the endorsement of. Not once did any of them point out that "oh, by the way, Liz Kimmerly here is a paid staffer on my campaign and I just want to be upfront about that."

It was clear that the room was stacked with active supporters of Steve Novick and for them no disclosure was needed. But several members of the audience spoke up during a Q & A session and expressed bewilderment at the veiled talk of the process having been politicized - clearly they didn't know anything about it and very likely had no clue that the woman running the meeting works for one of the candidates vying for it's endorsement. Neither Steve Novick nor Liz Kimmerly enlightened those folk with the truth. ...

Not once did Liz practice anything close to full disclosure. In fact, near the end of the meeting Liz got up and was addressing the meeting via the microphone at the front and an old man in attendance interrupted her with the question, "who are you?" Liz responded, "my name is Liz" and proceeded to describe herself as the state coordinator of the Oregon chapter of PDA. Nor did Steve at any point aknowledge that Ms. Kimmerly is a paid senior member of his campaign staff.

This is just bizarre. Some have pointed out that Liz Kimmerly had a relationship with the PDA before she moved to Oregon last summer. You'd think that, having been caught with her hand in the cookie jar, she'd have removed herself completely as the "state coordinator" of the Oregon PDA chapter - if only to salvage the reputation of the Progressive Democrats of America.

So far, the national leadership of the PDA has behaved admirably -- yanking her chain, and making sure that the rules are followed for their endorsement process. Hopefully Liz Kimmerly will see the light, remove herself entirely, turn the organization over to someone who isn't on staff with one of the US Senate campaigns - and we can get on about the business of defeating Gordon Smith.

Full disclosure, as usual: My company built the website for Jeff Merkley for U.S. Senate. I speak only for myself.


  • petrichor (unverified)

    kari, i think you forgot to mention how much it hurt you to have to write this.

    fortunately, i have insomnia, and was checking my email when my rss feed just chimed in, so i am here to remind you.


  • JHL (unverified)

    For those of your just joining us: Kari just forgot to explain that he works for Liz's boss's opponent.

    So you can see how easy it is to forget to make those little disclaimers. :)

  • petrichor (unverified)

    since i'm here anyway, and can't sleep...

    "Hopefully Kari Chisholm will see the light, remove himself entirely, turn BlueOregon over to someone who isn't on staff with one of the US Senate campaigns..."

    anyone remember back when jerome armstrong let mydd go silent for most of a year while he consulted for howard dean? back when the big bloggers had integrity. kos posted his disclosure on the front page, and did not engage in any smearing of the other primary candidates (except maybe kucinich).

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    Ha - JHL, you're right! I'm updating my post. Cute. Sleep deprivation sucks.

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    Petrichor... Your suggestion has been asked and answered previously on this topic. Since it's a good hundred comments in on the earlier thread, I'll repost:

    <h1>1, BlueOregon isn't part of any national organization. #2, BlueOregon predates this campaign by years. #3, my conflicts are clearly stated. #4, BlueOregon is owned by Mandate Media, my company. #5, BlueOregon is just a blog.</h1>

    And one last thing: If I didn't write at BlueOregon except for any time when my company doesn't have any clients, well, there wouldn't be a BlueOregon. (And note that Jerome has blogged continuously at MyDD for years now, despite his growing client list.)

    It's a non-issue. I suggest you read Jeff Alworth's "Toward Ethical Political Blogging" which continues to guide our work here.

  • petrichor (unverified)

    that's why i referred to the good old days when jerome armstrong let his blog go quiet. however, it is worth noting, that when he was consulting for mark warner, not only was he always open about it, but he was a complete evangelist--he never portrayed himself or his blog as neutral on the subject--he was trying to convert people (most notably markos) to the cause.

    i haven't followed the blog much since the stoller/bowers era, so i don't know if that is still the case. anyway, it is not the case here.


  • James X. (unverified)

    Can an insider not blog?

  • petrichor (unverified)

    i should elaborate--i don't really care if people blog and have clients and blog about their clients--i know bloggers have to pay their bills, and clients pay them money--that's why their clients.

    so have clients, and blog away. but drop the whole "we're neutral" thing. it is not possible--it's almost insulting. even if BO had another equally prominent blogger who had an equivalent relationship with the novick campaign, and posted similar hit pieces, and interlinked copiously with a practically self-contained subnetwork of novick affiliated blogs, it would not be neutral. it would be bipolar.

    so please sing your support for merkley from the rooftops, and accept his money for the official work you do. you're earning it in more ways than one.

  • petrichor (unverified)

    actually, if you wanted to hold on to the whole "we're neutral" pretense, you really should have a prominent pro-novick blogger here.no, it wouldn't be neutral, but it would be more interesting, and it would make this place feel less like the main cog in the mandate-merkley machine.

    and on that note, i would suggest that you invite E.B Thom, who you so unceremoniously banned from BO for no good reason, to be the resident pro-novick blogger.

    i don't think there is an equivalent pro-novick mini-blogosphere, but i'm sure loadedorygun could do some heavy lifting.

  • Nerd Burger (unverified)

    This whole episode--hell, this entire senate race--proves one thing clearly: Blogs are a horrible, useless source of information about campaigns.

    Between Kari's clear conflicts of interest (yeah, you just "built the website," but you've also become the loudest mouthpiece for the Merkley campaign), TJ's pimping for Novick on Loaded Orygun, and that embarrassment of a "blog" Forward Oregon (which might as well be the Merkley campaign blog), political blogging in Oregon has become nothing but unreadable, non-credible recitations of campaign talking points.

    Say what you will about the mainstream media, but at least when we read something by a journalist, we know they aren't a part of the campaign they're writing about.

    Maybe Kimmerly fracked up royally, and maybe Novick should cast her aside, but, as a reader, I have absolutely no reason to believe any of the bloggers who are currently writing about it--from either side. So, thanks for making political discourse completely meaningless.

    Of course, if something like this came up in the general, and it was Smith you were beating up on, I'd be inclined to believe you and line up alongside. Normally. Now, though, I'm just inclined to believe you're full of crap, and stop reading.

    (Full disclosure: I plan to vote for Novick in May, but I have exactly zero involvement in his campaign.)

  • Daniel Spiro (unverified)

    So I guess Blue Oregon is going to evolve into nothing more than an attempt to manufacture a scandal against Novick -- kind of like the Rush Limbaugh show, where progressives are bashed incessantly, only in this case, the intended beneficiary is another progressive.

    Kari, you seem to think you've uncovered another Watergate, but I don't see it. All you're accomplishing with this sort of thing is to make Gordon Smith's day. The real victim is Merkley, who will come across as the kind of politician whose lieutenants felt the need to go relentlessly negative in order to eke out a victory against fellow Democrats. Maybe when this is over, you can go work for the Clintons and tear into Obama. Or better yet, set up a shingle and hold yourself out as someone willing to work for any Democrat who has something negative to say about a fellow Democrat but doesn't just want to say it once ... or twice ...

  • James X. (unverified)

    Ok, I'm still ready to change my mind with new evidence, but scheduling a snap endorsement and determining who gets notified of it, while working for one of the endorsement candidates, presents a definitive conflict of interest. If evidence comes in that she didn't schedule it and that she didn't determine who was notified, I'm ready to reconsider my position. Even in such a case, though, it's still an obvious decision that when the employee of a candidate is running an organization that's considering that candidate's endorsement, that employee should choose which job she wants and temporarily step down from one of them. The conflict of interest here is textbook.

  • James X. (unverified)

    Also, this issue will not have currency by the time Smith starts running negative ads -- I'm sure he will be able to think of much less esoteric things to base his attacks on. But that's not a reason to sweep this under the rug, either. It really is not a stretch to see a valid question of ethical conduct in this issue. It should be addressed.

  • Daniel Spiro (unverified)


    I'm not suggesting the issue should be off the table permanently. I'm saying that we all need to hear from the Novick campaign about this before piling on with story after story using scandal-filled rhetoric as if we know all the facts. Right now, the level of the rhetoric from Kari is making it difficult to motivate the Novick campaign from even talking about it. After all, let's say that a stupid but relatively innocent mistake was made. Who would want to admit that, only to be faced with all sorts of innuendo about bad faith and the requirement to fire people. This level of rhetoric is best reserved for general elections, not primaries, especially when people who spread the stuff are paid operatives of one party who claim to be friends of the other.

    With friends like that, who needs enemies?

    That said, I'm never one to advocate sweeping things under rugs. If there's an issue here, and if people like Kari can stop acting like they're hunting for bear ... then I agree ... let's hear the truth. As for me, I've spoken to nobody from the Novick campaign or Novick himself about this, so I have no idea about this other than what I've read here, and remain agnostic.

  • Well Steve? (unverified)

    I am a life long union member and proud member of the Democratic Party of Oregon. One of the reasons that I CHOOSE to belong to both my local union and the DPO is my strong personal ethics and honest values.

    Beginning in February, my partner and I were going to start collecting information from the candidates to determine who we are going to support to replace Gordon Smith. We thought that this would be difficult because so many people that we know and respect are divided between Steve Novick and Jeff Merkley.

    If what Kari has written and others seem to be confirming is true then our decision has been made for us by Novick himself. We will have no choice except to support Merkley.

    At this point the only way we could consider voting for Steve Novick is to hear directly from him (in detail) about this issue.

    Karl Rove is happy to be able to cheat and get his clients elected (or selected) because he isn't honest or ethical. As a Democrat, I refuse to support anyone who stoops to the level of Rove, Atwater, or Ails.

    I haven't really heard of any substantial differences between the two candidates positions on issues that I care about so character counts.

    So Steve, let us heard directly from you, not a spokesman, about the serious charges raised by Kari.

    Well Steve?

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    To all the night owls and early birds: Kari is not the issue here. The issue is: Which D candidate running US Senate has the best chance to defeat Gordon Smith?

  • James X. (unverified)

    Daniel, given what we know, if I had my own blog, I wouldn't be calling for heads at this point. Given Kari's first-hand involvement, maybe he feels a better sense of what happened and is more comfortable calling for Kimmerly to be fired, but from an outsider's perspective, it could easily seem like Kari tried to push the story ahead of where it was. If I were in the Novick campaign, I'd probably want to kill the story over the holiday weekend rather than drag it into the next week, but I'm willing to wait some more for a response.

    Also, "Well Steve?," it would be nice if you could pick an identity, so we know who you are from post to post, and don't confuse you for others who seem to think the name field is a good place to put a subject line.

  • (Show?)
    Posted by: Well Steve? | Jan 21, 2008 6:56:05 AM Karl Rove is happy to be able to cheat and get his clients elected (or selected) because he isn't honest or ethical. As a Democrat, I refuse to support anyone who stoops to the level of Rove, Atwater, or Ails.

    Very well said! I'm not a Democrat, but I very frequently vote for Democrats. And I too refuse to support anyone who stoops to the level of Rove, Atwater, Ails, DeLay, Limbaugh, Coulter, etc.

  • Pat Malach (unverified)

    I suggest you read Jeff Alworth's "Toward Ethical Political Blogging" which continues to guide our work here.

    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

  • (Show?)

    The issue is: Which D candidate running US Senate has the best chance to defeat Gordon Smith?

    Yeah that's one Paulie, and another might be, which candidated has a functional moral compass.

    This story broke last week. Some facts are clear and not in dispute. As far as I'm concerned, the best way to make this whole thing go away is for someone from the Novick campaign leadership to clearly repudiate this behavior and shun those who demonstrate a bit too much ....shall we say...moral elasticity.

    They could have (and should have) addressed this issue days ago and gotten the high ground. That they have not is not the responsibility of Kari or of the Merkley partisans.

    This thing will continue to be a problem until the Novick campaign addresses it in one public forum or another. As progressives, we're not supposed to be the dirty tricks guys are we?

  • Steve Lover (unverified)

    Enough with the effort to distract, my fellow Novick partisans. Yes, blogs, like newspapers, television and radio stations, are sullied by conflicts of interest. BlueOregon is no better and no worse than the Oregonian, KGW, etc., but none of that changes the essential facts here.

    A paid employee of Steve's campaign attempted to rig an endorsement process. Steve and other paid campaign staff showing up on Saturday night is pretty strong evidence of the complicity of both Steve and his campaign. Yuck.

    Steve, even great politicians make mistakes and their campaigns make even more. But truly great politicians admit their mistakes (John Edwards and Les AuCoin come to mind with the Iraq war vote and the check-bouncing scandal), apologize, and move on.

    You have a chance to keep this incident a tiny blip that everyone will forget in a day if you simply address the situation in an honest fashion. You might actually earn some support for showing the courage to do what's right, just like you will as a U.S. Senator.

    Please, Steve. You're either getting horrible advice from your staff or from your usually spot-on conscience. This issue is going to get bigger as time goes forward unless you step away from it now while it is still only a blog item.

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    At 1:23, Petrichoer is confused. I am not neutral. I have never pretended to be beutral. I am very much pro-Merkley. BlueOregon, however, is a neutral venue. Among our editors, Charlie Burr is a Novick supporter. Among our contributors, Kristin Teigen and Leslie Carlson are both Novick supporters. (Leslie, in fact, has worked as press agent for Novick.) Our contributor, Les AuCoin, is Novick's most prominent endorser. I don't have the foggiest clue where most of our contributors stand on the race, and they're welcome to post anything they want, anytime they want, without any filter from us. As for EB Thom, there's hardly "no good reason" for why his commenting privileges were suspended. He's got his own blog, he's welcome to use it.

    At 2:00, Daniel Spiro tries to minimize this. Dan, can you name a sleazier thing done by a Democratic campaign in Oregon? As I've said repeatedly, I think Steve Novick is the kind of guy who wouldn't stand for this unethical behavior from his staff. I really hope he doesn't prove me wrong.

    I'm willing to acknowledge that my rhetoric may be flavored by my views of the overall race. But so far, no one from the Novick campaign - not least of all Liz Kimmerly - has any facts to contradict mine. (Except for the one open fact question: Was the chapter started a month ago, per Kimmerly? Or was it started last week, per the PDA's Carpenter?)

    It's well past high time for Liz Kimmerly to provide an explanation.

  • (Show?)

    I am tired of hearing from whomever is of the opposite opinion to Kari that he shouldn't be commenting or writing on this blog. Do these same people take the same position on the Daily Kos when Kos writes? The great thing about blogs is that you don't have to pay for them to read them and you can always ignore them. However, if you don't like the opinion of an editor you can refute it with facts or a well stated opinion. Telling an editor that he shouldn't be posting is ridiculous, regardless of other conflicts, as long as the conflicts are made public.

    I daresay that over time the dissenters will also side with Kari on some other issue and be glad that he supports their position then.

    I am personally glad that Blue Oregon exists and I appreciate the contribution Kari makes, even when I do not agree with him.

  • (Show?)
    Steve, even great politicians make mistakes and their campaigns make even more. But truly great politicians admit their mistakes (John Edwards and Les AuCoin come to mind with the Iraq war vote and the check-bouncing scandal), apologize, and move on.

    That is a sterling point. The measure of a politician isn't her/his level of perfection, none of us is perfect and we delude ourselves if we think otherwise, rather the measure of a good or great politician is in how they handle adversity... particularly of their own making.

    If this endorsement scheme was somebody else's idea and Steve merely aquiesced and now finds himself caught up in a situation he is having a hard time coping with, few, if any, of us will think less of him if he steps forward now and reasserts ethical propriety to his campaign. Indeed, I would very much respect him if he did that because the longer this festers the more courage it's going to take to do the right thing. But by continuing to let it fester he runs the very real risk of being perceived (and rightly so) as either tacitly complicit or crassly calculating for effect - neither of which would reflect well upon him or the state he seeks to represent.

  • jesus (unverified)

    This witch hunt needs to stop. Can we please leave this poor girl alone? She made a mistake and im sure she is suffering enough. This is a non-story anyway, stop destroying this poor girl for political gain.

  • Misha (unverified)

    These attacks against those who post on Blue Oregon -- and in particular on Kari -- have gotten absurd.

    Look, the default assumption is that everyone who blogs on this site is a partisan. We all have opinions. The fact that Kari receives a check from the Merkley campaign doesn't make his opinions or his factual accounts any less legitimate.

    It's important to distinguish Kari's role from that of a newspaper reporter, who purports to present an unbiased account of the day's events. Kari makes no such pretenses.

    It's also important to distinguish Kari's role from a campaign staffer who is organizing a formal endorsement by a third-party organization. Like a news reporter, a third-party organization purports to have made an unbiased assessment of the candidates, and by making an endorsement, the organization attests to the candidate's strength in promoting the organization's agenda. Obviously, if a staffer for the endorsed-candidate's campaign organized the endorsement process, that undermines the endorsement's (and the organization's) credibility.

    The point is: Kari is biased -- and so are the rest of us. Who cares? All he is doing is posting on a blog.

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    Jeff's & Steve's major differences are limited to style and the divergent life experiences that qualify them in very different ways to hold this office. On policy issues, they both support all major Democratic policy initiatives. That's why what we learn about their characters throughout this campaign and see how they behave when the going gets tough is so important.

    Most voters don't know or care who or what PDA is or who they endorse. But voters should care about how candidates go about trying to win influence, how they run their campaigns, and how they deal with scandals. Steve needs to deal with this one right away, up front, and decisively or he will lose his credibility as a "new" type of politician. This looks a lot look like same old, same old to me.

  • Satan (unverified)

    Sorry Jesus, this isn't just going away.

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    I think by this point that, despite Kari's continued defense of him, Steve Novick is clearly in up to his eyeballs on this. I've been around a campaign or two, and I've never seen anything even close to this level of importance happening without permission from the campaign manager, and knowledge and tacit approval from the candidate.

    But if there is any doubt, Steve Novick's behavior has sealed it. Not only has he made no effort to distance himself from the scandal, he's clearly trying to pretend it isn't one, that this is all just a partisan smear by his opponents, and continues to damage the credibility of the PDA for his own benefit. It's the Oregon Democrats' own Watergate in a teacup.

    I'm sorry, Kari. You may have known Steve Novick and thought he was a stand up guy. But from an outsider's perspective it's clear that Steve has, like many rich and/or successful people, previously seemed moral only because his morality has never truly been tested. This is probably the first time in his life he's ever had to actually choose between honesty and winning. And he's clearly decided to jettison his honesty.

    Yes, yes, I'm sure I'll be flamed for this observation from the people with such partisan investment in Steve that it's blinded them. But really, I'm only saddened. I was previously hoping that, even if he didn't jump immediately into the US Senate, we could find a place for Steve in State politics in a position commensurate with his talents. Now I'm reevaluating that. And frankly, until I see some genuine reflection on his part, I can't see myself changing my mind.

  • petrichor (unverified)

    "I am not neutral. I have never pretended to be beutral. I am very much pro-Merkley. BlueOregon, however, is a neutral venue. Among our editors, Charlie Burr is a Novick supporter. Among our contributors, Kristin Teigen and Leslie Carlson are both Novick supporters. (Leslie, in fact, has worked as press agent for Novick.) Our contributor, Les AuCoin, is Novick's most prominent endorser."


    i am hardly confused, i know your claim is that BO is neutral. i guess you think if you say it enough it must be true?

  • * Charlie Burr writes almost exclusively on national politics (especially Obama).
  • * Kristin Teigen rarely posts at all, and posted only once on Novick.
  • * Leslie Carlson posts infrequently, and mostly on global warming and energy, maybe once on Novick.
  • * Les AuCoin? Contributor who has posted twice in the past six months??? hahaha!

    you left out editor Jeff Alworth who is a Merkley supporter. your contributor list is long enough that you can cherry pick a few, and claim anything.

    but that ignores the facts that:

  • 1) the people above are either not political hacks, or at least are not indulging in that role here on BO, and
  • 2) the obvious pattern of posting--dominated by you, and "In the News"--which, in respect to OR-Sen 2008, is quite obviously geared towards hyping merkley and interlinking with the newly formed merkley-sphere, which may even verge upon astroturfing.