GOP flack Chuck Adams sleazes up Marion County charter change campaign

Chuck Adams has been described as a "hit man," "pit bull," and "flack."

By Brian Hines of Salem, Oregon. Brian describes himself as "a progressive blogger who has been involved in Marion County land use issues for some time." He typically blogs at Hines Sight.

Measure 24-292 is a Marion County charter change initiative that got on the May ballot thanks to 5,828 citizens who signed a petition to improve county government. If the Measure passes, Marion would become the tenth county in Oregon to move to a "home rule" system of governance.

The Measure increases the Board of Commissioners from three to five members, makes them non-partisan, and elects commissioners by district rather than countywide. Not exactly radical. Oregon's largest counties, other than Marion, all have five commissioners. (Read about other provisions of the Measure here, the Have A Voice Everyone web site.)

But opponents of the initiative are making it sound like the Measure will bankrupt taxpayers, destroy democracy, and lead to a takeover of the county by wild-eyed progressive Democrats. (I only wish; now all three commissioners are Republicans.) I've debunked these crazy claims in quite a few blog posts, including:

Marion County charter change: desperation breeds deception

"No on Measure 24-292" letter is full of untruths

Facts and fictions about Marion County charter change

The Salem Chamber of Commerce is leading the opposition to the Measure. This is to be expected, given the extreme pro-development and anti-environment leanings of two current commissioners, Sam Brentano and Patti Milne. The Measure is threatening to those in the Marion County power structure, because it would make the commissioners more accountable to ordinary citizens rather than special interests.

Even so, I've been wondering why the "No on 24-292" campaign has been so especially sleazy. Opponents have been way over the top with their untruths and fabrications. Today I learned the likely reason: Chuck Adams is the consultant supporting the Salem Chamber of Commerce's political action committee.

Adams is a long-time strategist for right-wing causes who fell on hard times back in 2007 when he was booted by the Republican leadership. He's been involved in some nasty "Swiftboating" campaigns, and has been called a "hit man," "pit bull," and "flack." I can believe it, given the nasty deceptions in a letter opposing the Measure from Walt Beglau, the Marion County District Attorney, that arrived in voters' mailboxes last Saturday, May 1.

It seems pretty clear that Chuck Adams is behind the letter. The Elections Division financial reporting system shows that Adams' firm was paid $10,571 on April 28 for "literature, brochures, printing" by Bigger Government? No Way PAC, the Salem Chamber of Commerce committee opposing Measure 24-292. Adams' total consulting tab so far is $35,428. That buys a lot of sleaze.

I emailed District Attorney Beglau today, asking him if he'd written the letter that he signed. I asked him where he got some of his "facts," such as that a costly special election would need to be held if the Measure passes. I pointed out that the Measure clearly states that the two additional commissioners would be elected at the next general election. 

You'd think that the Marion County DA would be up on the law, especially since he wrote the ballot description of Measure 24-292. But if Beglau simply signed a Chuck Adams hit piece where facts are irrelevant, that explains the untruths in the letter.

Final factoid: the Elections Division report shows that Kevin L. Mannix, PC contributed $12,000 to the campaign against the Measure on the same day Chuck Adams was paid his $10,571. I'm hoping that Mannix's support is a good sign for 24-292, given his history of personal electoral losses.

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    Thanks BlueOregon for shining a light on the sleazy tactics of the Big Government No Way PAC in the Marion County Charter campaign.

    Our local newspaper has looked the other way as this PAC has thrown around one misstated fact after another. The PAC's contributors, a small, but highly influential group of local business people, are also big contributers to the local paper's advertising revenues.

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    Ahh..the Douchebag of Double Dealing Dirt. You can always count on him to bring the sleaze.

    Great post, Brian.

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    The Oregon Rules of Professional Conduct include in the definition of "tribunal" a "legislative body." With inititives the voters are the legislative body.

    The Rules further provide that an attorney "shall not knowingly: (1) make a false statement of fact or law to atribunal or fail to correct a false statement of material fact or law previously made to the tribunal by the lawyer."

    Walt Beglau knows the charter calls for an election at the next general election.

    Perhaps a bar complaint is in order.

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    Chuck, a bar complaint sure seems to be in order. Along with an election law complaint. Here's the relevant ORS, which prohibits making a false statement about a measure with "knowledge" or "reckless disregard."

    <h2>Since Walt Beglau is the DA who wrote the description of Measure 24-292 for the ballot, a reasonable person would assume that he should know what is in the Measure. And a special election isn't.</h2>

    260.532 False publication relating to candidate or measure; civil action; damages; other remedies; limitation on action. (1) No person shall cause to be written, printed, published, posted, communicated or circulated, any letter, circular, bill, placard, poster, photograph or other publication, or cause any advertisement to be placed in a publication, or singly or with others pay for any advertisement, with knowledge or with reckless disregard that the letter, circular, bill, placard, poster, photograph, publication or advertisement contains a false statement of material fact relating to any candidate, political committee or measure.

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    The Walt Beglau letter, is just the latest example of what lengths the entrenched monied and political power structure of Salem will go to to defeat the Home Rule Charter. Early on, the county commissioners with the aid of staff posted on the official Marion County web site a "Frequently Asked Questions" page about the Charter. They claim it is only "informational" but we (H.A.V.E. and the Chief Petitioners) believe it to be highly biased and in violation of Oregon Election Law ORS 260.432 and filed a complaint with the Secretary of State. We cite multiple examples of bias and inaccurate comparisons, but the best evidence of bias is that all three commissioners have been enthusiastically opposing the Charter and using the FAQ's to bolster their argument. The "FAQ's" were created out of whole cloth. No input was sought outside of staff and they never vetted the FAQ's for bias with the SOS nor any other agency outside of their own county counsel. The County Clerk refused to post the FAQ's on his site.

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      almost as bad as calling a tax increase "kicker reform" ... but I guess if it was honest and forthright to call the Healthcare Tax was "Healthcare Reform" and Amnesty "Immigration Reform" than the defininition I have always used for 'reform' must be wrong ...I will start thinking of the word "reform' as being synonomous with "tax" and not the old less honest meaning I have used my entire life. You guys are something else sitting there and throwing rocks at anyone for misrepresenting anything to the voters.

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    This story still goes unreported in any print or electronic media. The Statesman-Journal, Marion County's primary news source has not run any stories on the contributions and expenditures for proponents and opponents of the home rule campaign. The opponents have raised $42,000. Forty percent of the opponents funds came from 2 individuals, Kevin Mannix ($12,000) and local car dealer Dick Withnell ($5,000). 11 other donors raise most of the remaining $25,000.

    The proponents have raised $10,000 mostly in smaller contributions.

    It seems like the media would want to know why this small group of business people has such a strong interest in preserving the status quo in Marion County Government.

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