OR-Gov: Being Oregonian, deja vu all over again

Carla Axtman

The Governor of Oregon needs to love Oregon, with a passion. They need to feel it in their bones like Tom McCall did. Our state needs to mean so much to our Governor that he'll go to the mat for us. He'lll fight like hell with the legislature and tussle even with his own staff to do what's right.

In 2008, I wrote a piece for Blue Oregon called "Being Oregonian". Its a love story, of sorts, about choosing to live and be a part of this place. An excerpt:

There's a section of dialogue in the film Gone With The Wind where Rhett Butler says to Scarlett O'Hara, "You get your strength from the red earth of Tara". I love this section of the film in part because it expresses how I feel about my home state of Oregon. I've traveled extensively throughout the United States and for me, there's no place like home.

I wrote this piece originally in discussing then-Senator Gordon Smith's reelection campaign. I believed then that Smith didn't work for our state and didn't have the passion for it that we deserve. As it turns out, as soon as Smith lost and left office he bugged out to take a fat-cat lobbying job in DC, which in my mind very much justified my beliefs.

And now, it's deja vu, this time starring Chris Dudley. And while my concerns about Smith were part gut instinct and part evidential, Chris Dudley has actually admitted to bugging out of Oregon while playing for the Portland Trailblazers to Camas,Washington because he didn't want to pay income tax.

At a press conference this morning, school activist Liz Kaufman along with 2 Hillsboro School District teachers, presented the case against Dudley. Kaufman (who admitted in the press conference that she's had her disagreements with Dudley's opponent, John Kitzhaber) spoke out about Dudley moving to Washington in order to avoid paying income tax in Oregon, at the advice of his accountant. Further, Dudley was the only Trailblazer during that era to make that kind of move. Kaufman listed 24 other Dudley contemporaries with the Blazers, including Clyde Drexler, Terry Porter, Arvydas Sabonis, Buck Williams and Jermaine O'Neal, who remained in Oregon and paid state income taxes. Even Rasheed Wallace looks better compared to Dudley on this issue. Jeez.

This guy used our state to further his career, used our infrastructure and took our money for tickets to see him play, but apparently he doesn't think we're worthwhile enough to pay his legal and fair share to be part of our civilized society in Oregon. Because some bean counter told him it would be cheaper to bail out and live on a $500,000 spread in Camas, Dudley found that just a little more important than say, living in the state whose infrastructure supports his job and his $12 million salary (plus investment and endorsement income).

The Governor of Oregon needs to love Oregon, with a passion. They need to feel it in their bones like Tom McCall did. Our state needs to mean so much to our Governor that he'll go to the mat for us. He'lll fight like hell with the legislature and tussle even with his own staff to do what's right. Gordon Smith rarely, if ever, did that when was in the legislature and certainly not as Senator. Chris Dudley has already demonstrated that he's willing to bail on us at the behest of a staffer.

We've got a crap-ton of stuff to work through in this state. When the going gets tough, am I actually now supposed to believe that Dudley is serious about Oregon to stick it out and do the job with a love for our state born of state income tax dodging? Really?

I've been pretty lukewarm with Kitzhaber. I'm starting to warm up more now that I'm beginning to see some signs that being our Governor and stewarding our state are actually a fire in his belly. Frankly, he's got some work to do with me still to get me to color in that box next to his name. But at least I don't have the sense that he'd bail out on us, because he hasn't. That's a good start.

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    Another week passes and still no posts on why anyone should vote for Kitz. Maybe what they are saying about the blue apathy towards Dr. Do Over is true.


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      As you see in my final graph, I've been pretty lukewarm about Kitz. That said, I will not vote for someone who abandons Oregon because a bean-counting staffer says it'll let him dodge taxes. That's bulls--t.

      Now I want Kitz to give me something to vote FOR--and not just have Dudley give me something to vote AGAINST.

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      How about a proven record of being an effective Governor.

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        Inform yourself! You know nothing about Oregon and nothing about the candidates or their positions.Doing a flyby and throwing stones is pathetic. Kitz was front page in the Statesman Journal in his interview with the editorial board and stating his plans for Oregon this week. He's been doing town halls and speaking appearances to highlight his policy positions, while Chris Dudley is the one hiding out behind his handlers.

        As for Harry Reid, he's done huge for the state of Nevada and for the country in getting legislation passed and defending Nevada from being a nuclear garbage dump. He's got a whack job tea-bagger for a candidate in a political climate of total ignorance and negativity. So he's doing good to point out that his opponent is a nut case who wants to eliminate civilized life in America.

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        If he's the progressive that many hope he is, wouldn't he want to say something?

        Are you kidding me? Kitzhaber has talked at length - at long length - about all the things he wants to do as the next Governor. There are tens of thousands of words at JohnKitzhaber.com with his policy plans, commentary on current events, and more.

        Reasonable people can have all sorts of quibbles about Dr. Kitzhaber's prescriptions for Oregon - but it's absurd to suggest that he hasn't offered any.

        Full disclosure: My firm built John Kitzhaber's campaign website. I speak only for myself.

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      John Kitzhaber is a smart, creative man who cares about Oregonians. He cared enough to create the Oregon Health Plan. It was born of his experience as an emergency room doctor, and his growing up in Roseburg, Oregon, seeing children and families without health coverage showing up in states of medical neglect, and getting the most expensive and least efficient care. As a person who worked in the health care field, I have seen countless persons who received needed care in a cost efficient preventive approach who would otherwise not have received it until they were so ill they had to go to the emergency room.Their lives were made better because of John Kitzhaber. He faced down members of his own party in Congress, including a televised hearing with Al Gore, to get the waiver necessary to implement the Oregon Health Plan. His understanding of the health care system is without parallel.

      John Kitzhaber has also come from a timber community that lost its economic base. A community much like the one I grew up in. He knows the history of Oregon's transition and retooling to other economic enterprises and how it can be done better. His interview with the Statesman-Journal highlighted his plans to move to secondary industries to timber, including uses for biomass, and alternative electricity production.

      One more thing about John Kitzhaber. He is an avid fly fisherman. He has a love of our streams and forests and a passion to preserve what so many of us, who have grown up in Oregon hold with great reverence, the water and fisheries resources, and the conservation of our watershed.

      These are all good reasons why I support John Kitzhaber. I happen to know someone who was on his staff during his previous tenure and from the stories I was told, I can only think he is a very good and conscientioius man who will do the best for this state.

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    I'll vote for Kitzhaber because he did expand Medicaid in Oregon, which is a form of single-payer public health insurance. And he did that without having to do what the feds have to do (I guess they have to), which is couple it with massive subsidy for private insurance.

    Also, Kitz opposes the Gorge Casino (as does Dudley- is Kulongoski the only high-profile pol who supports it?).

    Anyway, the State Dem Party has little of the baggage that's associated with the national Party (as regards foreign policy, especially); so, a liberal can vote in the State election with a clearer conscience and therefore support the Dem over the Tea Party.

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    The Portland Tribune has an article about the lack of enthusiasm for Kitz by Dems.


    The problem is, it's got the potential to hurt the Schrader and Wu campaigns if Dems just flat out don't show up. So, if Dems can't get excited for Kitz, then they ought to be spooked by the prospect of the House having subpoena power and turning Congress into a giant Obama impeachment hearing while government grinds to a halt.

    As if the prospect of the fraud Dudley being Governor weren't scary enough!

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    Who has paid more in Oregon income Tax? Dr. Do Over or Dudley? Just asking.

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      I have no idea how much Kitz has paid. But I suspect his salary has never been nearly as high as Dudley's. It's not the amount-it's the ditching out.

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        Well, from 1994 to 1997, he was Governor -- which means he was making $60k or $70k or thereabouts.

        But it was all reported as income in Oregon, and taxed thusly.

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    Okay, let's review the way the Oregon income tax works:

    (1) Chris Dudley paid Oregon income tax on every dollar he was paid while playing in Portland.

    (2) Like other NBA players, he also paid income taxes to many other states (and in some cases, cities and counties) when he played there. This is the way professional athletes are taxed.

    (3) By living in Washington, the only Oregon income taxes he avoided were the excess tax on top of the tax levied by the other jurisdictions on the games he played outside of Portland (plus other income such as from endorsements--but don't kid yourself, he wasn't Michael Jordan).

    (4) Any Oregon income taxes he avoided by living in Washington were a small percentage of the Oregon income taxes he paid during that time.

    Finally, Chris had never lived in Oregon before he signed to play with Portland as a free agent in 1993. He lived in Vancouver until he was traded to the New York Knicks in 1998.

    When Dudley returned to Portland in 2001, again as a free agent, he bought a home in Lake Oswego and has lived in Lake Oswego ever since.

    Since Dudley reportedly made $38 million during his career in the NBA, it is a fair guess that he has made plenty of money every year he has lived in Lake Oswego and if he wanted to avoid income taxes, he could have lived in Vancouver all this time.

    He chose to live in Oregon and he has paid income taxes in Oregon. This is a bogus story.

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    "but apparently he doesn't think we're worthwhile enough to pay his legal and fair share to be part of our civilized society in Oregon."

    Are you implying that by living in Camas he avoided paying OREGON income taxes on the money he made as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers?

    From the very article you reference:

    While Dudley had to pay Oregon taxes on his Blazers salary, he could avoid state taxes on capital gains and other earnings involving non-Oregon sources by living in Washington.

    During those three years, according to Dudley spokesman LeRoy Coleman, Dudley paid about $440,000 in Oregon income taxes. Dudley earned an estimated $11.4 million from the Blazers during that time, according to basketball-reference.com. In addition, Coleman noted, Dudley contributed more than $1 million to charities in the Portland area, including $300,000 to the "I Have a Dream" Foundation, his campaign says.

    It's fair to say that Dudley contributed more to the state than most of us will in our lifetimes.

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      Nope. Every HOME game in Portland, Dudley had to pay income tax on his salary as a Portland Trailblazer. As you note in the piece, he paid about $440,000 over the twelve years he played for the Blazers, on roughly $12 million. The way I understand it, away games are taxed at the place where they're played and then deducted from Oregon income tax.

      If you do the math, that averages out to around 3%. This doesn't include investment money or endorsement money, btw. That's just what the Blazers automatically deduct from his paycheck. The rest of us generally pay about 6-7% after taking the standard deductions. Only Dudley and his accountant know for sure how much he paid.

      Dudley himself admits he moved to Camas at the advice of his accountant to avoid paying Oregon Income Tax. He couldn't avoid it in total, obviously (and he lived here for awhile before moving, which is part of the $440k).

      It's great that he gives to charity. But charities don't build roads, pay for public safety, airports, etc. That is, of course, why we pay taxes.

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        No, he didn't move to Washington to avoid paying Oregon income tax. He did live in Washington to reduce a portion of the income taxes he would pay.

        And I didn't know roads and airports were paid for by our income taxes. Amazing the things you can learn on BlueOregon.

        I also respect the fact that, when Dudley chose to live in Lake Oswegon on his second tour with the TrailBlasers and stayed there. He even sends his kids to public schools.

        Doesn't that sound like a real Oregonian? Shouldn't every gubernatorial candidate do that?

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          Yes, Jack...by his own admission, he moved to Washington to avoid paying Oregon income tax.

          "Reducing a portion" by moving to Washington is avoiding paying the taxes he would owe if he lived in Oregon. This is a silly game you're trying to play.

          Meanwhile, none of the other players on the team were picking up and moving to Washington at the advice of their staff. Some of them were likely making a significantly larger amount than Dudley--especially in investments and endorsements (Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter come to mind).

          "Real Oregonian" indeed.

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          Then why did Dudley himself say that he did exactly that on advice from his accountant?

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        The rest of us generally pay about 6-7% after taking the standard deductions

        Because we earn 100% of our income from Oregon sources. If YOU had 50% of your income earned in say CA, you would pay CA income taxes on that 50% and the OR DOR would credit YOU for the state income taxes paid to other states. YOUR effective tax rate would be 3% as well.

        Income taxes paid to another state ORS 316.082

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          Uh...except it wouldn't if you were counting investment income and endorsement income--the latter as a professional athlete, of course.

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    $39.9 million career earnings for a part-time job. Of course he paid more than most in taxes (but, I'd bet he paid a lesser percentage of his total earnings than did we wage-earners).

    It's like with most pro athletes who become politicians: they make millions and millions and then convince themselves that they're worth that much.

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    Dudley is not an Oregonian. He's a carpetbagger whose campaign should be "Chris for Job." There will never be another Republican governor or candidate like Tom McCall, because the party would never nominate someone who loves Oregon that much, or has that much creativity, intelligence, or integrity. He's the best governor in our history.

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      When I moved to the area as a teenager, we lived first in Vancouver and then in Oregon. I've been here over 15 years.

      Am I am Oregonian yet?

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    Carla, please point to some real evidence that Mr. Dudley did not pay Oregon income tax. This doesn't make much sense. I have employees in several states. Where they pay income tax depends on where they work to my understanding. Also, I know other people that work in Portland, live in Vancouver, and they pay Oregon income tax.

    Per the Oregon Department of Revenue Website: "Residents of other states working in Oregon: Oregon taxes nonresidents on Oregon source income (wages, monies earned in Oregon, income from the sale of Oregon property, etc.)."

    Please support your statement.

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      Dudley himself says he moved to Camas on the advice of his accountant to avoid paying income tax in Oregon (not in total, obviously). But to a great enough a degree to make it worthwhile to pick up and move. He was already residing in Oregon at the time.

      Are you saying Dudley is lying about this? If so, please support your statement.

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        Sorry, I can't even claim he said it, much less that it was a lie.

        Please send me a link to the quote. I have searched and don't find it. Thanks,

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    One thing that gets missed in this discussion about Kitz in the criticism that he's not the flavor of the month, nor not a fresh face, is he came to leadership being elected from a conservative small town, while advocating progressive values.He is the most intelligent Democratic leader we have had in our state, who can appeal to the broad spectrum of Oregonians from small and big towns. In my lifetime the only better governor we have had was Tom McCall, who was a person of enormous talent and vision who came to leadership at a pivotal point in Oregon history.

    Kitz invited my Dad, who was a Republican serving on the city council in Medford, on a fly fishing trip. My Dad was honored and said that Kitz was well respected even in GOP circles even by those who opposed him on partisan issues. My Dad said that Kitz was the most knowledgeable state leader he had encountered in understanding and formulating policy on municipal issues, and on corrections policies.(My Dad served on a statewide community corrections task force.)

    So for all you who want trendiness and enthusiasm. I'm enthused by competence and experience, and an empathy and working knowledge of Oregon, not the NBA.

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    i've been excited about Kitz running since the moment i heard he was considering. few people have given more to the state than he has, and in his post-governorship time, he not only pursued some private sector opportunities, he worked in a variety of non-profit efforts, most notably the Archimedes Movement. clearly for some, his personal style isn't fiery enough (he's no Bradbury or Novick), but i have never doubted his desire to do his utmost for Oregon.

    i now have the chance to actually work for his campaign, and it's one of the great thrills of my lifetime. i attended 5 or 6 of the Dem primary debates, and every time i was so impressed by his understanding of the issues and the solutions he was offering. i know we will win this election; once Dudley shows he cannot say anything other than "cut corporate gains tax" he'll be toast. i just hope the Leg will have the courage & vision to work with Kitz. Oregon needs some tough medicine, but not the cut-cut-cut type. we need to restructure a lot of the programs & structures from the last century. we need a new revenue structure.

    and we need to understand that even if he's not as noisily enthusiastic as Bill Bradbury was, John Kitzhaber is every bit as passionate. and this time he won't be fighting the hard core radical right in the Leg. that should give us our best shot at a recovery that goes far beyond any empty "comeback".

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    Jack, I disagree with many of your statements. Re (1) look at OAR 150-316.127(F) to see how nonresident professional athletes are taxed by Oregon. (Believe it or not, there is an administrative rule that covers this...) Carla is close in her post. Re (2) not necessarily. Depends on the laws, rules and structure in the state. And if he was subject to tax on the same income, there are credits that can be claimed to off set that. Re (3) I disagree. As another post stated, he avoided tax on intangibles (interest, capital gains, etc.) Plus, we don't know the character of the income he recieved. I would add, he says he made large charitible contributions. That rings hollow because they are deductible and many times, that is a strong motive for some to make charitable contributions. While what he did was not unlawful, it speaks volumes about his character and is 100% relevant. The only way to put this to rest is for Mr. Dudley to publish his tax returns, which by the way, are not in the public domain or covered by FOIA.

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    Jack, I believe Dudley has been quoted as saying he lived in Camas to avoid Oregon income taxes per his accountant's advise. (Tax avoidance is legal. Tax evasion is not. There IS a difference.) Since he retired in 2003 (per his website) and there is no record of him voting past 2004, that leads me to conclude he didn't become an Oregon resident until 2004. Jsut because he bought a home in LO and put his kids in schoold, does NOT necessarily mean he filed as a resident. Take at look at OAR 150-316.027. Domicile and residency are two different tax concepts. Again, he can put this to rest with full disclosure.

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    @ Michael, you're talking apples and oranges here.

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    @ Michale ("reply" doesn't seem to work...)

    You said "Because we earn 100% of our income from Oregon sources. If YOU had 50% of your income earned in say CA, you would pay CA income taxes on that 50% and the OR DOR would credit YOU for the state income taxes paid to other states. YOUR effective tax rate would be 3% as well.

    Income taxes paid to another state ORS 316.082"

    You compared the hypothetical scenario of a full year resident to a non-resident. Every tax situation is unique. It's like saying if you get lung cancer, everyone gets the same treatment and has the same outcome. (BTW - your example was not accurate. IF you are an Oregon resident, if there was mutually taxed income, and you are taxed by Calif. you'd claim the credit on the non-resident return. And the credit is a formula so it's not necessarily the exact same amount as what you paid.)

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      1. Carla's claim was that the little people were paying double the tax rate that Dudley was on his Oregon income. All I was doing was showing her that if she had income from another state that was subject to income taxes, her Oregon rate would be smaller as well.

      2. Damn me for randomly selecting one of four states in the country where you claim the credit on the non-resident return.

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        Except his Blazer salary wasn't all of his income, Michael. I'm pretty sure I've made this point about 5 times, but its clearly necessary to make it again. He also had investment and endorsement income.

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    @ Michael - see OAR 150-316.082

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    Dudley's income taxes -- is this horse dead yet? Mr. Roberts, who is an experienced Oregon tax lawyer, has got the facts and law spot on. Yes, the big guy avoided some Oregon income tax, but less (probably far less) than half of what he would have paid had he lived in Lake O.

    BTW, tax avoidance is perfectly legal. And being sensitive to the value of a dollar is a good thing.

    Benefiting from rigged government contracting practices is not.

    I don't vote Republican, but this argument against Dudley is almost as weak as showing the video of him swearing and throwing the ball at Shaq. If this is all you've got, it looks like he's got a shot at winning.

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      When are you going to avoid taxes in Oregon and move out of state?

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      So Oregon's tax system is so rigged that nobody else on the Blazers team bugged out of our state in order to dodge the system?

      Seriously Jack, you're gonna need to do a bit better than this.

      Clearly for Dudley it was enough money to bail out of our state to live in Camas. The money was obviously more important than being here.

      But hey...if its "legal" to bail out, then it must be fine, right? Cuz that's "knowing the value of a dollar". How about knowing the value of being an Oregonian?

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    @ Jack B - As I alrady said, tax AVOIDANCE is not illegal. Tax evasion is. But this does speak volumes about Mr. Dudley's character and committment to Oregon. BTW - I am a DOR employee with decades of experience. I sit on the other side of the table from tax professionals all the time and they do not get it right most of the time...Mr. Roberts does not have his facts straight.

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      The very Oregon Administrative Rules you cited support what Professor Bogdanski and I have been saying. The tax system for professional athletes is designed to allocate tax liabilities among the jursidictions where the athletes perform. Yes there are more details, but they aren't significant or relevant to this issue.

      If Dudley had lived in Oregon during his first stint as a Trailblazer (as he did during his second), he would have been subject to Oregon tax on all of his income BUT offset by tax credits for taxes paid in other jurisdictions. That translates into an effective Oregon tax on income earned outside the state equal to the excess of the Oregon tax over the income tax in other jurisdictions on that income.

      So Dudley's tax savings was a relatively small percentage of his total tax bill, since he wouldn'd pay the full Oregon tax rate on income earned out of state even if he had been an Oregon resident.

      Does the Department of Revenue know you are posting this stuff while identifying yourself as ODR employee, by the way?

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        It seems to me that it's good to have an experienced, ODR employee commenting on this thread. Clearly there are some fundamental misconceptions on the part of you and Jack, as Lea has been pointing out. It's very educational and helpful, and I hope Lea continues to comment on these threads. It's very helpful for our readers to have this accurate information.

        It seems like you're making a veiled threat here against Lea, Jack. Not cool.

        Further, Dudley could in fact have been dodging significant taxes for Oregon, above and beyond salary. Investment and endorsement income, as I have noted a number of times, would have been included as well.

        Further, none of his other Blazer contemporaries, a number of whom were likely making a significantly greater amount, felt the need to bug out to Camas to dodge taxes. Dudley has freely admitted that this is why he left. Haggling over the amount is only making you look silly and honestly, petty.

        He bailed out on us to save some bucks, rather than staying here like the rest of his team. That says something about his character and his commitment to the state. And it isn't good.

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    Jack, you don't it quite right but whatever. BTW - I have not identified my employment previously. And everything I have covered came from and can be found in the public domain. I was just stating my opinion. Not speaking for the DOR. I don't recall signing anywthing when I went to work there that says I give up my 1st amendment rights.

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