Gordon Smith's opulent office digs reveal his hypocrisy

Kevin Kamberg

Smith mouthpiece Lindsey Gilbride wants to cross swords with the Merkley campaign over what she derides as "lavish furnishings'.

Okay... so Smith's own office space must reflect what Gilbride would probably describe as a more... prudent level of furnishings, right?

Judge for yourself:

Geoana_smith

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That doesn't exactly look like IKEA furnishings, does it?

Let's take just the fireplace mantel. I found one that looks exceptionally similar stylistically but it's made from a single type of marble rather than the stunning contrast of the two types which Gordo's fireplace mantel is made of. Price tag: $12,500.00. The rug looks to be valued very conservatively in a similar price range. It's hard to tell from the pics if the floor is hardwood or marble. For sure it's some sort of solid surface and those are invariably more expensive than the pad & carpet system that the Oregon Lege is getting.

And that's not even getting into the hand-made furniture which looks to be made from the endangered Honduran Mahogany (aka Big Leaf Mahogany) which is next to impossible to (legally) find in the U.S. any longer.

As an exotic wood craftsman myself I have some small familiarity with these sorts of things. I haven't known of an Oregon source of Honduran Mahogany in a number of years. At the very least I can say with some confidence that the wood that Smith's furniture is made from, even if it's a look-alike wood such as Bubinga, Sepelle or African Mahogany, very likely cost more to buy for whomever made the pieces than the very widely available Walnut which the Oregon legislature's new furnishings are going to be made from. Which of course means that the retail price for the finished pieces almost assuredly cost more than what the Oregon Lege is getting. Particularly if Lege's is being constructed largely with Walnut veneer over some sort of plywood substrait, which is very common and is actually very economically... um... prudent to build with.

It bears mentioning also that Walnut happens to grow right here in Oregon and we are one of several states that are commercial sources of Walnut lumber. Mahogany doesn't grown anywhere in the United States that I'm aware of. Which I suppose is a big part of it's appeal for the pinstripe crowd of which Smith is clearly a native.

So anyway, Lindsey Gilbride wants to cross swords on this stuff. Fine. Let's go there.

Gilbride claims that the Merkley campaign is "flat out lying" about the specifics of Smith state director Kerry Tymchuk's approval of State Capitol renovations.

The problem for Gilbride is that, as PolitickerOR's Britten Chase explains

According to minutes of a public commission meeting that occurred on Nov. 13, 2006, Tymchuck asked for a 15-minute recess to review the remodel proposal. When he came back from that recess, the minutes say, “Tymchuk supports the report as a thoughtful, innovative document.”

Gilbride would have us believe that Kerry Tymchuk, ranked fifth on PolitickerOR.com’s Power List 2008, is in the habit of signing off on blank checks. Because that's the only possible explanation which fits both the public record and her later assertion that he didn't know about the furniture. Which I suppose isn't that wild of an idea considering that we know that Gordon Smith signed off on a blank check to wage War on Iraq under false pretenses - at CONSIDERABLY higher cost than this much needed renovation in the state capital. In fact, Smith signed a blank check to start the war and then proceeded to periodically sign a series of blank checks to fund it - thus demonstrating his own ideas on fiscal prudence with taxpayer dollars.

Nevertheless, the onus is on Gilbride to prove her case and she simply hasn't done that. And given the furnishing which Smith only too happily surrounds himself with inside the beltway, I'd say Gilbride hasn't demonstrated much of a grasp on what constitutes "lavish" or it's appropriateness on the taxpayer's dime either.

Comments

  • 99 percent HONEST??? (unverified)
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    Let the word go forth from this day forward: THE FURNITURE WARS HAVE BEEN JOINED!

    Meanwhile, the Sellwood Bridge is still falling down.

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    Will Herr Schmidt get to take his furniture with him when he leaves office in January, or will Senator Jeff Merkley inherit it? Inquiring minds want to know! If indeed the taxpayers picked up the tab for this truly opulent office (and I've been inside and it's really posh,) I say let Jeff move right in after the fumigation is complete.

  • Steve (unverified)
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    "Meanwhile, the Sellwood Bridge is still falling down."

    Wrong blog. The failures of the local Democrat dominated regime are never discussed here.

  • funny (unverified)
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    Thats the whole point of the ad. Smith has never asked tax payers to front the digs of his office...if im not mistaken, all of the things that are in his office are paid for out of his own pocket.

    Yet Merkley wants to criticize how "out of touch" Smith is. Smith didnt ask Oregonians to make his Senate office fancy on their dime...

    But Kevin would rather discuss the definition of "lavish."

    Merkley will let the capitol digs go to shit, until he can get tax payers foot the bill.

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    if im not mistaken, all of the things that are in his office are paid for out of his own pocket.

    And we're supposed to believe an anonymous commenter on a blog? Either put your name to your post (and thus your personal credibility) or provide a citation with the actual facts.

  • dartagnan (unverified)
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    ".if im not mistaken, all of the things that are in his office are paid for out of his own pocket. "

    I believe you are mistaken. Senators' and representatives' offices are furnished by the taxpayers, although they also can bring in personal items.

    BTW who's the hottie with Smith in the second photo?

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    I'm sure that at least some of the items in Smith's office were purchased by him.

    Then again, let's compare legislative salaries.

    Senator Gordon Smith: $169,300

    Oregon legislators: $19,884

    That's right... Smith is paid $149,416.00 more per year than Oregon's legislators.

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    BTW who's the hottie with Smith in the second photo?

    Pop singer Shakira

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    You can find that pic and two more pics of Shakira and Smith Here.

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    Hmmm....

    The capitol digs went to shit well before Merkley ever became Speaker. I'd say 16 years of GOP House majority-ism contributed to that, mostly because they didn't have the leadership to actually renovate the place, which needed it BADLY. The furniture was horrific, and Senate Minority Leader Ferrioli was 100% behind the furniture buy.

    What's interesting about the Smith office pictures are that especially fancy marble fireplace and what appears to be extremely nice flooring. Is the commentor really suggesting that Smith paid for that?

    Frankly, I'm skeptical that Smith paid for all those furnishings out of his own pocket. Let's see the receipts.

    And then there's the Capitol Visitor's Center renovation project, which is well over-budget and late, overseen by the Senate Committee on Finance.

    And who's on that committee? Gordon Smith, of course.

  • Jiang (unverified)
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    Is it more hypocritical than Trader Joe's choosing stores with very high ceilings for "the effect", and blasting the air conditioning when it's 70 degress out, while selling themselves as green and progressive? Or throwing out good food on policy and then policing the dumpster so that the homeless can't eat it?

    Your criticism always reduces to "he's a bigger hypocrite than us". Who gives a damn? I give a damn about your hypocrite candidate, up in front one of the biggest evangelicals today, pandering to people that worship an entity responsible for DAILY ANAL RAPE! My hand's up...I gotta witness!

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    This is noteworthy...

    According to Janie Har of The O, the furniture going into the legislative offices will have a life-time guarantee. That is unusual and absolutely ought to be figured into the price tag for these pieces.

    The price tags for these pieces looks VERY reasonable and, to borrow Mr. Tymchuck's term, "innovative" given the life-time guarantee as well as the fact that delivery and installation is also figured into the price. Installation is normally an additional charge above and beyond the price for the piece itself.

  • Dawn (unverified)
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    Just an FYI, Every office in the Russell building has the same fireplace and flooring. It was installed when the building was built in the 1900's courtesy of the Architect of the Capitol at the time Elliot Woods, and Architects Robert Carrère and Thomas Hastings so is original to the building. As to the furniture, the Senate does issue furniture, but the furniture in Smith's office is not Senate issued and therefore not paid for by the tax payers.

  • Darrell Fuller (unverified)
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    Thanks, Dawn, for pointing out what was beyond the reach of Carla and others: The flooring and fireplace came with the building and were there long before Smith. He didn't buy them and wasn't in the Senate when Congress voted to build the building with taxpayer dollars. So, trying to tag him with it shows either blissful ignorance or grasping-at-anything-desperation (or both). I don't know if Smith or the taxpayers purchased what is in his office. I would guess it is some of both. However, I would note that I'm pretty certain the fabric they are sitting on comes from OREGON'S own Pendleton Woolen Mills. I'd bet a dollar or more that, for what it's worth, Gordon bought locally. On another subject in this thread, it is equally ignorant or desperate to suggest that Tymchuk's participation in a volunteer group which recommended updating the Capitol furnishings (among hundreds of other things) is tantamount to his approving the specific purchase of high-priced items as part of the resulting legislative project. What Tymchuk did was much less specific than determining the dollar amount of certain items. If any of you have documentation that Tymchuk sat on any group with approval authority that identified price ranges or approved the purchase of specific items at specific amounts, I'll humbly admit my own ignorance.

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    I'd bet a dollar or more that, for what it's worth, Gordon bought locally.

    So too has the Oregon legislature, with strong bi-partisan support.

    What Tymchuk did was much less specific than determining the dollar amount of certain items.

    Which, of course, is utterly irrelevant.

    Here's what IS relevant. What Tymchuk approved is coming in UNDER budget and on-time. What Smith approved is massively over-budget and very late.

    Slice or dice this any way you like and Smith still comes out as a flaming hypocrit.

    Merkley and his bi-partisan support acted prudently and with great fiscal responsibility (life-time guarantee and all). Smith and his cohorts have yet to demonstrate that they would even recognize fiscal prudence if it smacked them upside the head.

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    As to the furniture, the Senate does issue furniture, but the furniture in Smith's office is not Senate issued and therefore not paid for by the tax payers.

    Then Senator Smith should have the receipts, as I mentioned.

    What Tymchuk did was much less specific than determining the dollar amount of certain items. If any of you have documentation that Tymchuk sat on any group with approval authority that identified price ranges or approved the purchase of specific items at specific amounts, I'll humbly admit my own ignorance.

    He looked over the plans, according to the Politicker article and called them "thoughtful and innovative". Are you really going to float the idea that Tymchuk had absolutely no idea what he was saying? A guy with his political cred..?

    This is lame for Smith, and he should know better. Its also a very real demonstration that Smith could a crap about talking real issues.

    And maybe he could explain to us, while we're all paying attention to issues of renovation and furnishings, why the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center is so WAY over budget and VERY late--given that he sits on the committee that's got oversight of the project? Especially given Smith's criticism of the bipartisan Oregon Capitol renovation which came in under-budget and early?

  • LT (unverified)
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    Is Gordon Smith saying the entire Public Comm. on the Legislature was wrong?

    That Merkley all by himself (no St. Senate input, no Ways and Means input) decided how that money was spent and Gordon knows where he could have gotten locally produced furniture cheaper?

    Interesting Oregonian story:

    http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/news/121886611081860.xml&coll=7

    Did Gordon want the furniture purchased from Costco rather than being produced by Oregon prisoners? Does he not have any alternative, he just like beating up on Merkley because, like the famous Mark Penn memos which were sent to Hillary Clinton, it is better to bring out what is wrong with an opponent than to say why a person should be elected?

    Or, could it be that Gordon Smith doesn't want to talk about Gordon Smith's voting record, so he is slamming the bipartisan work of a legislative effort which is coming out a lot better than what Congress tackles?

  • edison (unverified)
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    WTF? Does furniture-gate really have traction??? This post is, in reality, about nonsense. What matters is Smith's synchophantic loyalty to the Bushies and all that that entails: Iraq, Katrina, the environment, the economy. Now, if those four issues don't have 'traction' with the voters, then we're all screwed ... again.

  • Mark Jaquette (unverified)
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    WWBYD?

    (What Would Brigham Young Do?)

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