OR-1: Cornilles' blame face

Carla Axtman

Update: 12/15/11,11:10AM I didn't understand this from reading Mapes' piece, but the three employees who made the claims about Cornilles being massaged by a co-worker at work are different than the three employees who received the $9000 settlement. Apologies for the error.

It's really got to suck to be the Republican Party of Oregon right now. They try and try to find a somebody who can break through to win a major political office in Oregon. With the exception of Greg Walden in OR-2, the GOP has no game in this state, and it doesn't look like it's getting any better with Rob Cornilles.

Jeff Mapes, The Oregonian:

With a marketer's flair, Cornilles repeatedly talks about how Game Face has "created 60 jobs" in Oregon. That, however, refers to the number of people who have worked at the company at one point or another. Game Face has never had more than 20 to 22 people at any one time, Cornilles acknowledges, and it's now down to four full-time employees and two part-timers.

Democrats charge that he's inflated the importance of a company that no longer has an office -- employees now work out of their homes -- and that let its business registration with the state lapse for more than a year.

Cornilles says the lack of registration was a simple paperwork error and that Game Face remains a viable company.

Wait....what? 22 employees isn't exactly a big corporation. Are we really to believe that Cornilles just allowed an errant employee to overlook the filing of basic business registration paperwork? For OVER A YEAR? That just strains credulity. And then he continues to allow the business address to remain the storefront where they no longer reside. It might not be illegal, but it seems smarmy and irresponsible.

Those are the least of his problems, however.

The piece by Mapes asserts that Cornilles' business has undergone moderate to serious tax trouble.

The company's other brush with authorities came in 2007 when the Internal Revenue Service filed a tax lien of $83,284 against Game Face after it failed to pay payroll taxes for nine months.

Cornilles says a bookkeeper failed to pay the taxes and hid warning notices. Cornilles says the company paid off the debt in three months once he learned of the lien, and he says he doesn't know why the now-departed bookkeeper failed to make the payments.

Kink and two other ex-employees who didn't want to be named because of their business positions express skepticism that Cornilles would miss unpaid taxes. They say he was a hands-on manager who always wanted to know the details of company operations.

Mapes also reports that Cornilles was forced to pay $9000 in back wages to three employees in a settlement. The employees claimed that Cornilles' company wasn't paying them for the work they were doing--forcing them to do telemarketing under the guise of "training". Cornilles later shut down the "training" blaming a bad economy that made it difficult to place trainees.

Not so much on the personal responsibility thing, it seems. Lots of excuses. Lots of blame.

Then there's this next thing and honestly, I'm not sure at all what to make of this:

Those three former employees also say they didn't always like the atmosphere around the company. They say they saw Cornilles get back or shoulder massages from an assistant on several occasions.

The massages never took place behind closed doors or seemed sexual in nature, they say. But "I really thought it was inappropriate for a business setting," one former employee says.

Cornilles says it never happened and that no complaints have ever been filed against him for inappropriate behavior. But I don't rightly see what these three people have to gain in lying about it. Unless they feel Cornilles somehow screwed them over in the settlement process, that is. Neither prospect is especially helpful to Cornilles' case for Congress.

And if all this wasn't enough, Nigel Jaquiss at Willamette Week added a little more:

What has received less attention is one of Cornilles’ chief campaign pitches: that tax breaks hurt small businesses and their ability to create jobs.

“Who gets stuck paying a full tax bill?” Cornilles asks on his campaign website. “People like you and me, and small and medium-sized companies like the ones in Oregon that don’t have tens of millions of dollars to stuff the tax code with special-interest perks.”

But earlier this year, Cornilles led a team that proposed revamping Portland’s Veterans Memorial Coliseum—a plan that counted on millions of tax breaks for its investors.

Cornilles and his partners proposed an $80 million remodel of Memorial Coliseum that relied on big tax breaks for its investors.

The tax breaks would have totaled as much as $30 million, according to the Jaquiss piece. Cornilles claims he didn't know anything about the tax breaks in the proposal.

In keeping with the theme, Cornilles goes on to blame others for the tax break issue. He claims that he wasn't familiar with them or very familiar with the proposal itself because it was written by a partner in the project. However the story notes that Cornilles and his partners held a "flurry of meetings" with elected officials and business leaders this year to pitch the idea. It strikes me as exceptionally odd that the discussion around tax breaks wasn't had even one time in Cornilles' presence during one of those meetings.

And who signs on to a proposal worth $80 million without reading it?

I'm guessing the campaign didn't think that one through before they had him say that.

Comments

  • (Show?)

    Well, let's see if B.O. got their posting FB interface fixed. Good blog, Carla!

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    The task at hand is to strip off this latest mask that Cornilles is trying to hide under, the fiction that he is some kind of moderate pragmatic businessman who just wants to work with everyone for solutions. Last time out he was the "original Tea Party" guy, who loves their agenda, and endorses the voucher privatization schemes for Medicare, and wants to hand over Soc. Sec. to Wall St.

  • (Show?)

    Shades of Newt Gingrich on a very small scale. Sheesh.

  • (Show?)

    "Cornilles acknowledges, and it's now down to four full-time employees and two part-timers."

    I wonder if those six employees are members of the union.

  • (Show?)

    A Democrat with this many "problems" wouldn't even be considered a serious candidate. Is there any reason other than a boatload of cash from national repug sources that he's supposed to have a chance?

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