Matt Wand taking heat for legal actions against gay couple

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

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.

From the O's Larry Bingham:

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.

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    Full disclosure: In 2010, my firm built Nick Kahl's campaign website. I speak only for myself.

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    i had the chance to talk to Rep Wand regarding his feelings towards Pdx during the session. to be blunt, he hates us. he believe that there is no one -- and i pressed him on this (sadly, off-camera) and he made it clear he meant no one -- in Pdx cares about "his" people, Troutdale. the proof? we opposed the Mount Hood Freeway. yes, that Mount Hood Freeway, stopped from destroying a massive section of SE Pdx was, in fact, an attack on the people of east county.

    oh yea, we're pushing all our people out there. on purpose. while Pdx & Mult Co needs to address displacement based on income & opportunity, there is no plan in place to push "poor people" -- many of whom are ethnic minorities -- in the direction of Troutdale. not that he opposes having ethnic minorities in his community, of course. it's just that Portlanders hate the east county so much.

    and to get to Kari's point here: if Rep Wand carries such a deep animus towards Pdx -- and i believe he does -- then some measure of that could be in part to us being such a gay-friendly city. we hate Troutdale but love teh gayz. it's not like this is an uncommon view east of I205.

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        Comparative, negative, whatever.

        The fact is that Wand decided to characterize his opponent's views in the Voters' Pamphlet -- which almost no one does.

        That he did so on an issue that is irrelevant to matters before the legislature is interesting to say the least.

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          The issue is not irrelevant to the voters and that was his targeted audience in the Voter's Pamphlet. He knew it would win votes in D49 so he did it. End of story.

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            And does that make it OK? If the voters in another district believe interracial marriage is wrong, would it be OK for a candidate to make that claim in the Voters' Pamphlet?

            When do we cross the lines from policy discussion to meaningful bias to outright bigotry?

            (And please note: I'm asking the question - not asserting a conclusion.)

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          Kari, I think this is a bit over the line and conflating two totally different issues. I listen to you on KPOJ regularly and I am an admitted progressive. I do not remember any issue in the past on which I have disagreed. But I believe you stepped into this puddle before checking to see how deep it is. What Matt Wand said in statements while running for office is one thing and totally open to for comment. But before making the jump to accusations of homophobia in his legal work, you might want to do a bit of research on the folks making the accusations. Take the time to talk to past employees who were not paid and other business people in the area who have been lead on and unpaid. Ask the Chamber of Commerce why they were put on a cash-only up front basis, due to unpaid bills. They have drawn on the public sympathy account for too long, and accusations of homophobia are seen in these parts as an attempt to extend that account. Many folks in the business community, myself included, did not know they were gay until that accusation was made. They were simply perceived as incompetent business managers. Matt and I disagree on quite a bit, but I have to stand up for him in this case. It is unfair to conflate statements in his campaign literature and his work as an attorney representing clients in a valid legal matter. I am afraid that you may have put the credibility of you and Blue Oregon on the line, and been used in the process.

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            Thanks for sharing your point of view. It's precisely why I asked the question in my post.

            As to whether I was "used", well, I wrote my post based on the media coverage -- I never talked to the VPI's owners or any of their representatives.

            I think it's a bit silly to assume higher journalistic standards of a conversational blog than of the news media, but I guess it's a sign of the esteem our audience holds us in.

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      I don't see your quote from the Voters' Pamphlet as "attacking" Nick Kahl any more than Nick's "attacks" him.

      I'm not sure what you're talking about. Nick's VP statement makes no reference at all to Matt Wand.

      What's striking here is that there was any negative (or comparative) information at all in the VP. That's very rare.

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        I'm not sure that going negative in the voters' pamphlet is that rare.

        Here's from Jim Huffman's vp entry:

        "For 30 years, Senator Wyden’s answer has been more spending, higher taxes, and more burdensome regulation. That philosophy has killed our jobs."

        From Chris Dudley's entry:

        "A LEGACY OF FAILED LEADERSHIP The seeds of Oregon’s current economic crisis were planted during John Kitzhaber’s eight years as Governor. Under Kitzhaber, unemployment went up 65% and climbed above the national average – where it has been stuck ever since."

        To be fair, it looks like going negative is much less common in legislative races, but still, it doesn't seem "very rare".

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    Without further evidence, I'm inclined to be with Sue on this.

    I've had friends who've lost thousands of dollars to the View Point Inn and been left scrambling to relocate their wedding. Wand's doing his job.

    Of course, like all of us, Wand has underlying biases that affect how he goes about his job, and I'm open to seeing more evidence.

    For caucus-supported candidates, the Voters' Pamphlet contains poll-tested messages, and often has items about things legislators have no significant power over. In this case, legislators have the power to refer a ballot measure to overturn Measure 36, so they have a bit of power. Presumably the voters in the district who were polled liked how Wand framed this issue, so he included it in his statement.

    That said, I'm curious which "traditional marriage" Rep. Wand supports. Is it the tradition of having wives as property? The tradition of banishing people in interracial marriages to the woods to die (or requiring life imprisonment)? The tradition of requiring the church's consent to marry? The tradition of prohibiting wives from owning property in their name? The tradition of banning the use of birth control by married couples? The tradition of it being legal for men to rape their wives? The traditional marital age of 12?

    Being against equal rights isn't something to be proud of. Luckily, over time, the trends are pointing towards supporting the rights of loving couples to marry. Hopefully Rep. Wand will come around as well.

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      Certainly, the owners of the VPI seem to have been less than competent business owners.

      I'm not disputing that at all, and I think it's rather beside the point.

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          Wait a minute. It's possible for these business owners to be incompetent AND that Matt Wand is biased against gays and lesbians.

          Just because they're incompetent doesn't mean that they're wrong.

          You're right that they didn't provide any evidence; but that's why I went looking to find some corroboration.

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              No, I think I did find some corroboration. That's what made this interesting.

              Isn't opposition to marriage equality evidence of at least a little bias against gays and lesbians?

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                Other than his opposition to marriage equality, did you find any other evidence that animus towards gay people was driving Wand's actions in this case? Did you look for other evidence?

                That would be useful information in this discussion, especially because this post has made it more difficult to find out Wand's overall record on gay rights.

                I have to say, before knowing that the owners were gay, I had an impression that they are incompetent. You know, it happens--gay people are capable of being incompetent as much as straight people.

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                  You know, it happens--gay people are capable of being incompetent as much as straight people.

                  Um yeah, that's what I said! But just because they might be (or are) incompetent doesn't mean that they're wrong about Matt Wand.

                  I've started looking into Matt Wand. I have not finished. This is a blog; that's how it works.

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                    I've started looking into Matt Wand. I have not finished.

                    The point a number of us have been making is that should have been done before you posted this.

                    This is a blog; that's how it works.

                    The responsible thing is to check it out ahead of time. It appears you only made a cursory investigation of this before you posted it. That hurts your credibility. That's still true on blogs.

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                      Sorry, but no.

                      The whole point of open source journalism is to invite the audience to participate.

                      I do this as a volunteer, as a hobby. I am neither a journalist, nor do I have the time to investigate every thing that's suggested to me.

                      I raised an issue, pointed to a couple of relevant facts, and asked the audience to weigh in (which it has) and to share any additional evidence either way (which it hasn't.)

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                        That may work when it's a discussion on policy issues. When you're making an allegation that someone is acting based on bias, there should be a different standard.

                        Would you really be fine with it if someone posted something similar about you?

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    Mel, Sue, Rob, and Noah --

    As I wrote in the post, I think the jury is out on Matt Wand.

    The charges leveled are serious. I intended to write a post about how the charges were likely bogus. But before I did that, I decided to investigate a bit.

    When the first place I looked, the Voters' Pamphlet, turned up additional evidence, that was very interesting -- and pointed to a need for more info. (And no, it's not that Wand is opposed to marriage equality -- that's not new -- it's that he chose to address the issue in the Voters' Pamphlet, a place where most candidates choose to go all positive, in contrast to the rest of their campaigns.)

    But like I said: "Seems to me the jury is still out. And I think it's worth continuing to look for evidence either way."

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        "I am tired of defending Republicans due to the fact that my fellow Dems can't come up with something real to criticize"


        Who are the Dems who "can't come up w/ something real to criticize" Republicans?

        I'm glad your tired of defending Republicans because I'm tired of Dems defending right-wing bigots like Wand.

        Kari was publishing a claim, not a "rumor." Get over it.

        What exactly are you trying to accomplish w/ your defense of a Republican? Don't you have a better way to spend your time?

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        I'm wrong on what?

        FACT: The owners of the VPI made a claim that Wand treated them with bias.

        FACT: The media reported that claim.

        Those two things alone make it worthy of discussion on a blog about progressive politics in Oregon.

        What we don't know is whether their claim has any merit.

        And that's what I'm trying to figure out. I went looking for evidence - either way - to substantiate or refute their claim.

        For cryin' out loud, it's a blog - not a peer-reviewed scientific journal article, or evidence in a court of law.

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    I am glad to see so many folks taking Kari to task for this.

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    First, Azalea Cooley. Remember?

    Second, Rep. Wand dislikes Portland so he must be anti-gay. Really?

    Third, what if they weren't gay, just Democrats who accuse Wand of not settling just because he's a Republican? Plenty of clear anti-Democratic evidence since he is an elected Republican officeholder who beat a Democratic incumbent. Would that be enough "proof" that his tactics, as a attorney representing a client, are a result of some characteristic of the person on the other side of the lawsuit and not the facts of the case?

    If they were Hispanic and Wand opposed a path to citizenship (not sure where he actually stands) would that be "proof" that he wouldn't settle because they were Hispanic?

    Kari: if you sued me in small claims and I alleged you would not settle with me because I'm a Christian and since you support gay marriage, you clearly are anti-Christian (right? Using your logic with Wand since you are very public about your stand), how would you prove your actions were on the merits of the case and not on your anti-Christain bias?

    You should be embarrassed.

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      Rep. Wand dislikes Portland so he must be anti-gay. Really?

      I have no idea what Portland has to do with all this.

      Wand attacked Nick Kahl on the basis that Kahl supports marriage equality.

      Isn't that prima facie evidence that Wand has at least some level of animus toward gays and lesbians?

      Whether or not it had anything to do with his legal work is the open question that I'm exploring.

      I think I need to keep reminding folks that I haven't drawn any conclusions here about the legal case. Just asking the questions.

      Quoting myself:

      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.

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        "Rep. Wand dislikes Portland so he must be anti-gay. Really? I have no idea what Portland has to do with all this."

        I agree, but Barnhart brought it up and I found it as ridiculous as you apparently did.

        "Wand attacked Nick Kahl on the basis that Kahl supports marriage equality. Isn't that prima facie [sic] evidence that Wand has at least some level of animus toward gays and lesbians?"

        Simple answer: No. No. No.

        I oppose so-called marriage equity. Always have, always will. I also have a number of gay friends. We know we disagree on this issue but it doesn't interfere with our friendship. I have absolutely no animus towards them or anyone else who is gay or lesbian.

        Kari: Are you really positing that if two people disagree strongly and publicly on an issue it means they must have some level of animus towards one another? That is how thin your argument is in this thread.

        I know, I know, you're not drawing any conclusions, just asking the questions. Balderdash.

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          I really am asking the question about where the line is between policy disagreement and bigotry.

          I've had a number of friends engage me in off-line conversation about this in the last couple of days -- and they argue that opposition to gay marriage is actual bigotry.

          I'm not inclined to go that far. But it's a very interesting question to explore.

          If we were talking about interracial marriage, there would be no question.

          But it wasn't that many decades ago, when opposition to interracial marriage was similarly widespread.

          I really am asking what people think. You've explained your view. I'd like to hear others.

          It's a blog; part of the point is to have conversations about stuff when we don't have all the answers.

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            So Barack Obama is a bigot?

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            Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you.

            It is possible for someone to be vehemently anti-gay marriage, maybe even offensively anti-gay, and still not be guilty refusing to negotiate for that reason.

            Leaving Rep. Wand out of it for a moment, hypothetically, if the public record is replete with "evidence" of someone's opposition to gay marriage, how could that person -- from your perspective -- prove their legal strategy is based on the needs of their client and the strength of their case and not on the characteristics of the client?

            Seems to me you are creating political Kobayashi Maru for any public figure in a business dispute with anyone who is gay.

            I hope you don't want to establish prima facie as the evidentiary standard for being guilty of discrimination, even on a blog.

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        "Just asking the questions."


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        "Wand attacked Nick Kahl on the basis that Kahl supports marriage equality.

        "Isn't that prima facie evidence that Wand has at least some level of animus toward gays and lesbians?"

        No, it's prima facie evidence that Wand believes support for gay marriage is unpopular in the district in which the two candidates were running.

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    1) What about the other creditors owed money to? There are 199 others besides Wand. Do they seek their payment of debts simply because the couple "is gay"?

    2) What about the judge who made the ruling? Did she rule on it because the couple "is gay?".

    3) 2.9 million dollars were owed to creditors. How much of that was owed to those Wand represents (2 out of the 200)?

    If a candidate states they support traditional marriage, that is an indicator of their stance on that particular issue. It isn't exactly an inappropriate comment. How many pols including Obama dance around the issue by saying they support "traditional marriage" but civil unions should be decided by states?

    One of your "guest columnists" btw, who I won't name, has in the past on other websites, viscously attacked "gays" and continues to do so, claiming any gay person who disagrees with Obama in any way, should shoot themselves, and he would be happy to provide the bullets. But that guest columnist turned out to be a kook individual who later went bankrupt himself, had his home foreclosed on, and was slapped with a stalking order for camping outside the homes of Portland Democrats, screaming and making threats of physical harm to people. But that's another story.

    My point is, sure - dig for something that shows Wand plotted against the couple specifically because they're gay - but make sure you take a real close look at the other 199 people the owners had bad debts with.

    And of course, the Oregonian, who we boycott supporting through subscription, canceling those subscrips in emotional stances over something their editorial board did, they chose the juicy quotes, of course. I know, reading it online doesn't violate our position of a boycott. Right.

    By all means, let's get the state to recognize same sex marriage, and then we can be done wasting our time on Wand's yet to be proven prejudice. Oh, the horror...

    The Oregon Constitution: "It is the policy of Oregon, and its political subdivisions, that only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or legally recognized as a marriage."

    Change that.

    I a more concerned over the fate of a historic landmark, than I am over the "remarkability" that the owners happened to be gay.

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    This is all I'm going to say.

    My aunt and uncle bought their house from Geoff Simpson back in the 90's. Let's just say it was shady business on his part, even back then.

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    Am I the only one who thought Darrell Fuller was Matt? It's uncanny!

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      Rep. Jefferson Smith interrupted my testimony before the House Transportation Committee to discuss my similarities to Rep. Wand. And, while enjoying a cup of Starbucks with my friend from KGW, Pat Dooris, a passer-by asked if we were twins.

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    Don't political consultants usually write voter pamphlet statements these days? Also, this post strikes me as something a Tom Delay would be comfortable publishing. Your continual defense of exploring "an open question" is really just an opportunity to dive into the gutter more than a year before Wand is up for reelection. Identity politics aside, character assassination is disgusting. Act like your parents raised you right at least

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    Let me be perfectly clear the only reason they were taken to court over an extremely overdue bill was because they refused to pay it, regardless of who they are or what they do in their private OR political life. Period that is all, it was an unpaid bill with no sexuality or politics attached to it. The reason anyone is even discussing it is because they turned it political by making the accusation to try to excuse not paying a debt. How is submitting an invoice for a construction job that was completed politically motivated? How is going to a family member for representation to get that bill paid about anyone's sexuality? They owe so much money to so many people...are they ALL homophobic? Geoff and Angelo's politics are only slightly more aligned with Blue Oregon than Matt Wand. The crucifixion stunt should show where they really stand.

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      "The top poster displays a photo of Thompson, a former model, from 1996 – naked and with arms outstretched – with the text, “Small business crucified by the Obama Administration”

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