Recently, the Oregon press was all a-flutter with a juicy story accusing retiring State Representative Larry Galizio (D-Tigard) of switching his vote on the Metolius protections in order to secure a job with the Oregon University System. After piecing this story together within the context of the entire saga, I'm of the belief that lobbyist Hasina Squires is feeding false smear stories to Oregon reporters.
The appointment, announced Wednesday, raised some eyebrows among Salem insiders because Galizio made a dramatic about-face and provided the crucial vote to bar a resort from being developed near the Metolius River -- an outcome Kulongoski desired.
The whole "raised some eyes with Salem insiders"...? Hmm....
Having followed the Metolius protections legislation (and extenuating issues) under a microscope, these so-called "Salem insiders" raising eyebrows in Harry Esteve's general direction don't seem especially believable. Based on the reported timeline, Galizio spoke with Chip Terhune of the Governor's office about the job well before the session. There's one report that they spoke during session, but I'd heard almost from the beginning of session that Galizio was probably going to resign his seat. And while the call from the Governor to ask Galizio to vote "yes" on the protections was meaningful to Galizio, it wasn't enough to change his initial vote. In fact, right after the Governor's call, Galizio voted no.
And if there were some kind of quid pro quo for Galizio's vote, it would be stupid for Galizio to talk about that phone call to the media, which he did at length when it happened. It just doesn't add up.
Based on everything I witnessed surrounding this vote, the change for Galizio happened because of tweaks to the legislation coupled with an absolute onslaught of phone calls, emails and letters from constituents and others around Oregon.
In other words, I'm confident this story is bullshit.
Interestingly, this is the second time that a legislator with ties to the Metolius issue has been wrongly smeared in the press. In 2007, I (along with TorridJoe) followed the story in the press accusing State Senator Betsy Johnson of nefarious dealings with the airport in Scappoose. The story turned out to be false, a completely ginned up piece of crap based on a vendetta by a guy upset that Johnson had written a bad performance review for him.
The guy in question, Pete Williamson, was at the time the Executive Director for the Port of St. Helens. He was quoted at least a few times in the paper spewing garbage about Johnson on the airport issue and was obviously the source of at least some of the reporting.
The efforts against Johnson on this worked to harm her influence on the Metolius issue in 2007.
So what's the common denominator between the Oregon press, Williamson, Johnson and Larry Galizio?
Squires is the lobbyist for Dutch Pacific Resources, one of the development companies who wanted to build destination resorts at the Metolius. That's her connection to both Johnson and Galizio. She's been quoted a number of times in the Oregonian and the Bend Bulletin, establishing a relationship with the Oregon media. In addition, Squires also lobbies for Special Districts Association of Oregon. Special Districts Association includes the various city ports: the connection to Williamson. Here is the 09 list of lobbyists and who they work for. You'll see Squires has Dutch Pacific and Special Districts. Those same clients were with her in 2007.
It's my belief that Hasina Squires fed the Galizio story to the Oregonian and the Bend Bulletin, if not others. I also believe that it's extremely likely that Squires is the one who connected Pete Williamson with local reporters to get the Betsy Johnson tale into the papers.
I've been asking around about Squires. She has a reputation as effective and very ruthless. When I inquired of sources if they thought Squires could be the one feeding the Galizio story to the media, every single person I spoke with said that her involvement would not only be unsurprising, it would make complete sense. Hasina doesn't like to lose and she has built relationships with local reporters. Galizio was the guy that changed his vote and handed Squires the loss. If she can screw with his reputation and maybe his new job, she gets back at him.
I put a call into Squires a few days ago, asking to talk with her about the Galizio-Metolius story, but she didn't call back.
If we've got lobbyists feeding fake stories to the local media in order to intimidate or smear legislators, that's a problem in need of a fix. If reporters are being fed stories by lobbyists--reporters had better double and triple check the story. Especially if the lobbyist has an ax to grind.