Last week, a bankruptcy court ruled that the historic View Point Inn in Corbett, Oregon, would be taken over by the court - in an effort to restructure the business and pay off creditors. (You might remember the Inn from its cameo in the vampire teen flick, "Twilight")
One of those creditors is construction company owner Dick Wand, whose bankruptcy attorney is his nephew, Rep. Matt Wand (R-Troutdale). Rep. Wand also represents a second creditor in the case against the View Point Inn, too.
All of this isn't remarkable, except that the View Point Inn's bankrupt owners are a gay couple - Angelo Simione and Geoff Thompson - and they've accused Rep. Wand of refusing to come to an agreement with them because they're gay.
They accused Wand of pursuing a personal vendetta against them because they are a gay couple living in a conservative, rural area where gays are not accepted. "If we were good old white boys with wives and kids out here chewing tobacco, he would have worked it out with us."
Now, I tend to be a bit skeptical of these sorts of claims. After all, people can get pretty emotional in the midst of legal fights - especially bankruptcy - and it's easy to blame bias or politics. And Wand has flatly rejected the assertion.
But it's a serious charge, so I decided to poke around and see if I could find evidence that Rep. Wand has any animus toward gay and lesbian Oregonians.
First place to look: Official documents, written by Wand personally, available on the internet. Since I'm a political hack, I usually start with the Voters' Pamphlet. Of course, ther Voters' Pamphlet is usually plain-vanilla propaganda, designed to make the candidate look good to as many people as possible.
So you can imagine my surprise, when I found this on Rep. Matt Wand's Voters' Pamphlet statement:
A Clear Choice:
Nick Kahl: Recently joined the Bar Association as a new lawyer. He supported nearly $2 billion in new taxes and fees. He is opposed to defining marriage as being between one man and one woman. Nick supported a law to reduce sentences for violent, repeat criminals.
Matt Wand: A descendent of a pioneer family from East County. Opposes new tax increases and government growth. Wants spending brought under control, funding our priorities of Education and Public Safety first. Matt supports traditional marriage and has deep community service roots.
Now, on the spectrum of political rhetoric, that's pretty tame. But in a Voters' Pamphlet? Who goes negative in the Voters Pamphlet? That's pretty rare in candidate races.
And attacking an opponent on gay marriage? Four years after Measure 36, and in the midst of a deep recession - that's what Matt Wand decided to put in the Voters' Pamphlet? Slamming Nick Kahl on gay marriage was quite clearly important to Wand, though without any apparent reason. (After all, after Measure 36, it's not a legislative issue any more -- it's a constitutional one, requiring the voters to reverse themselves.)
Certainly, Wand's motives in the View Point Inn case start with representing his clients. But is it possible that his willingness to negotiate or compromise is colored by his views about gays and lesbians?
Seems to me the jury is still out. And I think it's worth continuing to look for evidence either way.