Are the Oregon Dems Crooked, Too?

Jeff Alworth

During the Dan Doyle affair a couple weeks ago, I argued that a pattern of scandals indicated corruption at the heart of the Oregon GOP.  Yesterday Republicans fired back, filing complaints with the Secretary of State's office alleging the Dems were corrupt and  hid money on their campaign finance reports.

The Republicans' allegations mainly center on fund-raising committees for House and Senate Democratic caucuses, which they allege did not list all required details of "in-kind" spending on candidates.

Such spending is assistance other than cash, such as caucus committee payments for advertising, brochure mailing or polling for a candidate.

Day said Democrats hid campaign costs from scrutiny in what he said could be an intentional "culture of misreporting."

Whenever charges of GOP corruption have surfaced over the past few years, mostly we see wagon-circling on the part of friends and allies.  I like to think liberals have a higher standard than that, so what do you think: did the party really commit fraud?  Or, is this an attempt by Republicans--as Dems charge--to change the subject?  I only know what I read in the papers, so I'll remain agnostic on this one.  But early reporting suggests subject-changing.

[T]he accountant who two weeks ago was asked by the GOP to examine the Democratic reports said the irregularities generally seemed inadvertent.

"It looks like it's sloppiness" said Donna Butler, who often has been treasurer of House and Senate Republican caucus campaign committees.

Other Coverage:

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    Jeff - first, I say kudos to you for bringing this up. If we want to talk the talk, we should also walk the walk. For full disclosure, my practice is in election law and have a halfway decent amount of knowledge regarding the reporting requirements. That being said, I have not seen the actual filings - my comments here are based on the press reports you linked to.

    If we are going to compare the two issues, it's really no contest... Rep. Doyle is missing nearly a million bucks. Was it siphoned off? Was it pocketed? An investigation there is clearly needed, and according to the papers, it's happening.

    The GOP allegations against the Dems are not nearly as serious. There is no missing money and no claims that money was not reported. It's a question of whether things were mislabeled on the reporting forms. SEIU has reported all of the in-kind donations, and the party reported recieving them... the issue is whether it was properly labeled as "polling" versus "mailing and printing." If anyone out there has ever dealt with these reporting forms, you know filling them out is sometimes more art than science. That being said, it seems to me that there is enough of a difference here between "polling" and "mailing" that someone should have figured it out.

    Opinion time... I would chalk this up more as lazy reporting than some grand conspiracy. Barring any new revelations, the Dems and SEIU seem to have reported all of the in-kind contributions flowing, but someone did a lousy job in describing the transaction in the paperwork. Contrast that with Doyle who has a lot of unaccounted money... I think this is a distinction with a difference.

  • LT (unverified)

    My 2 cents worth: First: a Republican accountant says it is inadvertent sloppiness (quite possible), this press conference was done by the GOP Vice Chair (why--Kevin didn't want to be involved?) implying this was malicious rather than sloppy, the accountant was only given the job of going over the C& Es 2 weeks ago BUT it is not about Doyle? Yeah right! Tell me another one!

    Second: However the scandal, if there is one, is less likely to be reported publicly because it is less concrete than what is reported on C & Es.

    It is about how Future Pac actually works. Is it true it is in the same building as DPO but not under DPO control? (Brings back memories of when I was a St. Central Comm. member and people complained that the St. Cen. Comm. was asked to approve financial reports that were nearly impossible to decipher, as I was telling a friend on the phone yesterday.) Not to mention the lousy track record of no Democratic House majority in over a decade--and we are supposed to have faith in that process?

    More importantly, is it true that FuturePac "pulled their punches" with regard to challengers to union-endorsed Republican incumbents (maybe because of a PERS vote or something)? This has been the stuff or rumor for some time, and will probably continue until there is evidence one way or the other.

    And as I have said before, such rumors could impact recruitment for 2006 downstate legislative races. There are some angry enough to say "Unless I have sufficient local support and can ignore the caucus, why bother to run after the way 2004 candidates were treated?"

    Not a pretty picture but truer than I expect some would like to believe.

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    Here are the very simple answers to your questions:

    1. Are the Democrats crooked too?

    No. Every nickel spent was not only reported, but we are VERY confident was correctly reported. The Republicans are simply incorrect (and my hunch is that they know they are incorrect) in their assertions about the Democratic committees.

    1. Did the party commit fraud?

    Obviously, the clear answer is No. The lack of shame in making this accusation was laughable. Fraud is Dan Doyle potentially stealing $80,000 from his campaign. Fraud is not SEIU reporting all of its contributions, but mistakenly miscoding a few of the contributions.

    1. Is this an attempt by the Republicans to change the subject?

    Absolutely yes. The sad thing about it is that Democrats in the legislature have been taking criticism from party activists for not being more partisan in their response to the recent Dan Doyle fundraising scandal. Instead, Democrats took the high road and developed a reform proposal in bi-partisan cooperation with the House Republicans.

    This is another example of Republicans attempting to drag everyone down in the mud with them. The unfortunate thing is all they have to do is put the charge out there, even if there's NO substance to it, and it gets front page placement in the Oregonian.

    The facts are:

    • The Republicans have some serious problems with a potential pattern of their elected officials converting their campaign funds to personal use. Its no secret the news media has been heavily investigating several Republican legislators for personal use of campaign funds.

    • The Oregon Republican Party attempted to come to their rescue by trying to make the entire Democratic party look bad. The great thing about having the facts and the truth on your side is – the facts and truth are on your side. Because Democratic reports have been correctly filed, no one is sweating bullets like I’m sure some Republicans are.

    • This point can’t be stressed enough – Democrats in the legislature have consciously not used the Dan Doyle revelations for partisan gain, even when the opportunity so clearly presented itself. This has been viewed as an opportunity to develop real campaign reforms and improve the image of the entire legislature. The cheap political stunt pulled by the Oregon Republican Party yesterday may have torpedoed all of that. Do they care that they continue to make an institution that they've been in control of for 15 years look terrible?

    A side note: This entire episode underscores the news media’s culpability in the partisan escalation of modern politics. Have the Democrats in the legislature gained anything by genuinely and consciously putting bi-partisanship over partisan opportunities? Not one article, editorial or column has been written giving them any credit for that choice. But all it takes is a bunch of sensationalistic trumped up charges by the Republicans to make front page news. Those of us who advise Democrats get the message loud and clear – if you want to make it into the news – be as partisan as possible.

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    Always attacking Future Pac. I’ll grant you they are not prefect but I think they are working very hard with very limited resources. It’s not their job to win those races it’s the candidates’ job. I think Future Pac’s greatest misdeed, if it can be called that, is not to properly explain this to prospective candidates. Being in the State House on the minority can seem like a sucky job. Crappy pay, you don’t have any real power to pass legislation. You have to settle for getting little bills passed and you have to bend over backwards and let the republicans take credit for it when it’s done. So I can see why the House dems don’t always explain to prospect how much work it will be when they run and how bad their chances are in districts with even slight republican registration edges. However, the responsible for victory and defeat has to lay with the candidate. Everyone help but it’s up to the candidate to run the race it’s their life.

    Future PAC can’t say when they are recruiting if they are coming to target most districts. It’s too early to know what the opposition will be for sure, whether their will be a third party candidate, or most importantly how much money they will have in the bank to help. I have only every heard second hand from my friends at Future Pac that they have set strict goals on candidates and those weren’t always met. Future Pac need to be resource for candidates but we are doomed if we think that one organization whether it’s in Portland or Salem or Bend will be able to win local races all over the state with a tenth of the resources of other state wide campaigns. (I totally I made that “tenth” thing but I’m sure its much less than most contested Statewides)

    Joe “Chubby Gazelle” Baessler

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    Thank you, LT, for mentioning this:

    More importantly, is it true that FuturePac "pulled their punches" with regard to challengers to union-endorsed Republican incumbents (maybe because of a PERS vote or something)? This has been the stuff or rumor for some time, and will probably continue until there is evidence one way or the other.

    I'm very interested in this, rumor or otherwise. The fact is, some unions endorsed Republicans, and given the weight unions as a whole have in Democratic politics, FuturePac's deferring of action and advocacy in those races, if verifiable, amounts in my mind to an endorsement by omission. Fine, but they're (again, if true) not a Democratic PAC, and they won't get any of my money or my time.

    When any of us join up to be a Democratic precinctperson, we swear an oath to "support Democratic candidates" - full stop. And what's good for us damn straight ought to be good for them.

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    LT -

    Since Future PAC's C&E's were correctly publicly reported - which means if you actually look at them you can confirm this - they actually paint a different picture from the one you frequently like to portray here on Blue Oregon.

    These reports show Future PAC heavily invested in and won races in Coos Bay, Tillamook, Forest Grove (the only instance of an incumbent losing in the entire state), Tigard, and Woodburn. Three were Republican pick-ups and ALL of them, most people would agree, are moderate to conservative districts.

    These same reports show that heavy investment was made in four races narrowly lost in Newport, Bend, Gresham and rural Clackamas county.

    Finally, these same reports also show that Future PAC made late investments with late emerging opportunities - neither of which unfortunately panned out - in Eugene/Junction City and Hood River/Sandy.

    The final score - defended 2/3 open D seats. "Flipped" three R seats including defeat of one incumbent. Nearly all resources went to candidates outside of the metro area - most of it to "rural/downstate" Oregon.

    And I thought I would mention that one of the most exciting things about being the Campaign Director for Future PAC right now is the number of individuals taking the invitiative to contact me to talk about running for the House - including some 2004 candidates considering making a second run at their district. It seems your cynical view of running for the House - even for a second time - isn't shared by many Democrats from around the state.

    Whatever your experience is with Future PAC from years ago or maybe more recently, it simply isn't the case today.

    I would, in fact, be interested in any concrete suggestions you have for how we can run the most effective campaign possible in 2006. I encourage you to contact me anytime to discuss those concrete suggestions.

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    I have to laud the Republicans for what I see as a very crafty, if disingenous, communications strategy. It's a page right out of Karl Rove's playbook.

    They have a negative story (Dan Doyle) running over multiple days/news cycles that is dominating the political headlines. What to do? Here's the answer: offer up some specious countercharges to make the other side look bad. It doesn't matter if their charges are as serious as the Doyle story, because people don't pay enough attention long enough to make the distinction. It bumps Doyle right out of the news and makes the Dems look bad. Brilliant.

  • Aaron (unverified)

    The Multnomah County Democratic Party on Thursday filed an ethics complaint against Rep. Derrick Kitts, R-Hillsboro, charging that he is using his office for financial gain.

    Kitts called it a "baseless partisan complaint" and said the state Elections Division advised him that he was not breaking the law.

    The complaint came after The Oregonian reported that Kitts is using campaign expenses to pay for his lodging in Salem during the legislative session. Lawmakers also receive a per diem of $91, typically used to pay expenses associated with the session, but they can use the money in any fashion.

    "He is being paid twice for the same expenses, once from the taxpayers and once from his contributors," said Jeff Merrick, the county Democratic chairman, in a letter sent to the Oregon Government Standards and Practices Commission. He argued that it violated the law against using a public position for financial gain beyond the wages paid.

    Pat Hearn, the executive director of the ethics commission, said he had not seen a copy of the complaint as of Thursday evening.

    -- Jeff Mapes

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    Anyone who has filed C&E's knows that the rules on in-kind contributions is open to much interpretation and ambiguity, even at the Secretary of State's office.

    Disappeared campaign funds is a much more serious matter. On campaigns I was involved with, treasurers worked very hard to track down every fraction of a dollar. It looks like Doyle "lost" more than I ever spent.

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    It's worth pointing out that if SEIU incorrectly labeled an in-kind contribution as "polling" that should have been "mailing and printing" (or vice versa) that there is absolutely NO BENEFIT TO GAINED from this mistake. Absolutely no political advantage from this whatsoever.

    LT, I know you care about electing Dems outside of the metro area (as you've mentioned in previous posts), and that you have had problems with FP in the past, I would love to see you take up Isaac's offer and offer some concrete suggestions for 06.

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    It's worth pointing out that if SEIU incorrectly labeled an in-kind contribution as "polling" that should have been "mailing and printing" (or vice versa) that there is absolutely NO BENEFIT TO GAINED from this mistake. Absolutely no political advantage from this whatsoever.

    LT, I know you care about electing Dems outside of the metro area (as you've mentioned in previous posts), and that you have had problems with FP in the past, I would love to see you take up Isaac's offer and offer some concrete suggestions for 06.

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    It's worth pointing out that if SEIU incorrectly labeled an in-kind contribution as "polling" that should have been "mailing and printing" (or vice versa) that there is absolutely NO BENEFIT TO GAINED from this mistake. Absolutely no political advantage from this whatsoever.

    LT, I know you care about electing Dems outside of the metro area (as you've mentioned in previous posts), and that you have had problems with FP in the past, I would love to see you take up Isaac's offer and offer some concrete suggestions for 06.

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    OK, nothing in the above post was profound enough to warrant three postings. It kept giving me error messages after each one... anyway, my apologies and have a great weekend blue oregon.

  • LT (unverified)

    OK, concrete suggestions: It is about local quality. By that I mean locally recognized candidates and quality of both candidates and campaign organization.

    I am old enough to remember when Peter Courtney was a House freshman and Jim Hill almost was. In 1980 Carter conceded early, Hill lost by 60 some votes in the recount and won convincingly in 1982. Courtney was a city councilman who decided to run for the legislature although as I recall, some of the local folks wanted him to run for Mayor. I was very proud of having been there from the beginning when I heard Peter Courtney tonight on the City Club broadcast.

    I know he got there from plain hard work and local support--in 1981 there was no caucus process of deciding who would run and which candidates would have which support. Peter won a contested primary against a high quality candidate. As recently as 2002 there were multiple Democratic state rep. primaries, so don't tell me if the caucus didn't recruit there would be no candidates. I doubt the caucus recruits more than one candidate per district, so if there are primaries there are other ways people decide to run for state rep.

    And Peter said an interesting thing on that broadcast tonite--that his district is Gervais, Salem, Woodburn "and you may think being just down the road from you it is the same as where you live, but it isn't". I have substituted in schools in all those towns, and Marion County is nothing like Multnomah County. It is the job of Future Pac to convince downstate locals that they understand those differences, not the obligation of people in counties like Marion to say "Yes, you folks in Multnomah understand the whole state because you say so".

    How many face to face conversations have you folks who support Future Pac had with downstate activists since the election--County Central Comm., DFA chapters etc. from Marion County, Polk County, Lincoln County and others? I think former St. Rep. Terry Thompson is now a Lincoln County Commissioner. If you think I have strong opinions, you should talk to him!

    How much "debriefing" has been done--interviewing those who worked on campaigns that fought the good fight but lost? Both Richard Clarke and Gen. Wesley Clark have talked about "lessons learned" exercises after a major project/effort. That sounds like common sense to me.

    What worries me is the aging of our leaders and where the new leaders will come from. There are some high quality Democrats in the legislature, but where will the 2006 candidates come from? Aside from Jefferson Smith and former Monmouth Mayor and now Major (about to return to Iraq for 2nd tour of duty) Paul Evans, I don't know any who are potential future candidates. The 2006 election needs candidates not burned out by the process--some good people I know sure sound to me like they are saying "I have better uses for my time than to work on a campaign/ run for office again". The folks at Future Pac may not be concerned about that, but my point is: they should be.

    After hearing Peter Courtney on the radio tonight, I got out the 1981 Oregon Legislature guidebook with pictures published by Legislative Administration. In 1981 Hardy Myers (now AG) was Speaker of the House. Many see him as a standard of quality.

    Right next to freshman Senator John Kitzhaber,MD is a state senator who was appointed in 1977 (mid session replacement for a Senator, apparently because he served in the 1975 and 1977 House sessions) named Ted Kulongoski. Another freshman Senator whose name you might recognize: Rod Monroe--more recently of Metro.

    The freshman state reps. in 1981 incl. Bill Bradbury (now Sec. of State) Peter Courtney, Darlene Hooley (now member of Congress), Barbara Roberts (a future Gov.), Lonnie Roberts (now Mult. Co. Comm.).

    My point is, that was over 20 years ago. Many of those folks were in their 30s and 40s then, and many are now over 55.

    There was a young man I knew who was campaign manager for Jim Hill sometime in the early 1980s. He was hired directly by the candidate. I don't think he had come directly out of college. He said he had been raised with the idea that FDR's great belief was "try this, and if it doesn't work, try something else". And that idea, more than any particular policy, was the heart of liberalism.

    Many believed that Democrats lost the majority in 1990 due to the misdeeds of Dave Dix (who was right up there with Doyle when it comes to campaign finance honesty). But that was over a decade ago! What I am saying is that it is time for an honest discussion, esp. among those who were candidates and activists involved in 2004 legislative campaigns to get together and openly discuss what worked and what didn't. It is like the old crack about out of state "professional " staffers who say things like "Well that didn't work in my last state so it won't work here" when many currently in office had employed exactly that tactic successfully.

    I've heard stories for years that someone looked at spreadsheets or other data and made decisions solely from that. There is a song from the musical The Music Man "But you gotta know the territory". What I am suggesting is that no data on paper will substitute for actually visiting the districts with an open mind and listening to the locals. Too many stories float around like the ones where someone from Future Pac (or similar organization)calls a candidate and says "Someone from this office will be down on Thursday to help you walk Pct. 234 because that is what our records show you should target next". The caucus person then goes to that district on Thursday, looks at the number of square miles (much in farmland) of Pct. 234 and realizes that isn't such a good idea.

    One very concrete suggestion: Find out who decided that District 19 wasn't a priority and why. Doyle unbeatable? Locals here know that district has always (regardless of party) gone to someone whose name was known in the district long before they ran for state rep. The configuration of that district and the one I live in (former Dist. 30--the rural one, and Dist. 31 the mostly urban one) were not changed much during Bradbury's redistricting--new communities added/subtracted, but the general character preserved. The candidate recruited to run in that district in 2002 was a nice enough guy--I met him once. I said to him "You'd be a great successor to Larry Wells" and he said "Who's Larry Wells?". Just about any local could tell you that Larry Wells could still have been state rep. if he chose (were it not for term limits) because he was so well known and his constituent service was a model for all legislators (just the way Darlene Hooley's constituent service is). He had time to talk with high school students who visited his office. He was one of the best advocates for clean water in the Legislature. He now works for Marion County Farm Bureau opposing some of the stranger parts of Measure 37, and he and his wife are some of the nicest people I have ever met in politics.

    But the 2002 candidate didn't know this because he had recently moved here from California. Whose bright idea was it in 2002 to recruit a new Oregon resident to run in a district which has long elected people who have long history in the district? I recall a very bright young woman who ran in that district years ago. Eventually she moved to Portland and won local office there I think. But that district wasn't going to elect her over someone the local folks had known for 20 years (she was prob. under 35 and I don't think had lived in the Salem area her whole life). A friend and former co-worker lives in that district and once said to me "Oh, we generally ignore all ads and discuss among ourselves who we trust and who we will vote for. " The most talented staffers in the country aren't likely to know how to deal with that--like the West Wing episode where Josh, Toby and Donna get stranded in Iowa because the campaign bus leaves without them and it turns out Donna has better people/survival skills out in the real world than either Josh or Toby.

    If someone decided "Doyle not worth being one of our targets because the 2002 candidate didn't do well and after all that is a Republican district" then they made a huge mistake. Cafe Today owner Cameron (unless he makes some huge mistake)will be tough to beat now in his newly appointed district unless there is a person well known in a district community (whether any Mult. Co. resident has ever heard of that person or not)who is willing to go thru the process of running for office. Not to mention whether there will be anyone wanting to run against Jackie Winters for St. Sen., Dalto and Thatcher for State Rep.

    I would stongly suggest everyone reading this read at least Chapter 6 "Democracy: An Owner's Manual" if not Dean's whole book "You Have The Power". He specifically speaks of down ballot races: state rep., county clerk, county commissioner. We are so proud here in Marion County that we elected a Democratic County Clerk in 2004!

    So, in concluding summary, here are my concrete ideas: 1. Know the territory.

    1. Debrief the folks who fought the good fight in 2004.

    2. Find people in Marion County who are known and respected by local citizens and who are willing to run for office. And be very clear with them (in writing might not be a dumb idea given all the miscommunication in 2004)about the relationship between caucus and local candidates.

    3. Why did the 3 women lose? As far as I can tell, Cowan, Steigler, and Howells had very close state rep. races. I have only met one of them but know people who know the other two. If those campaigns could be dissected, they might hold the key to better strategy and tactics in 2006. It might be intellectually and emotionally exhausting, and might step on some sensitive toes. But had those women won, there would have been a split House, just as there was a split Senate in 2003.

    Is that concrete enough?

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    "Unless I have sufficient local support and can ignore the caucus, why bother to run after the way 2004 candidates were treated?" - LT

    I sat in on some of the conference calls Jon had with statewide D's, and that, coupled with my experience in 2004, is that under Jon's leadership, FuturePac did a very good job at rewarding and helping darkhorse candidates and central committees in rural Oregon who were putting in the work to run strong campaigns.

    Given the financial constraints that FP is operating under, none of us will get all of the support we'd like, but I can honestly say that we're getting better candidates, earlier, for 2006 thanks (in part) to the support we've had from FP.

    The central point of this discussion, the corruption of our political process, speaks to a broader conversation that we need to have about why Oregon is only one of five states in America with no limits on contributions and expenditures for candidate races and how damaging this has been to the public interest during the last 8 years.

  • Sidney (unverified)

    Future Pac does good work when it works for them. However, incumbancy protection needs to be ended. There were good candidates coming forward to run-- some of whom did-- in primaries and in the general. Future Pac was unwilling to step in and help, even if there were clearly better candidates.

    HD 16 was a good example. A first time candidate challenged the incumbent. The incumbent is a nice enough woman, but ineffective, poor consitutent relations and a terrible record of attendance. After three (?) terms in office, she seemed to have no defining accomplishment. No overt scandals other than her failure to follow through and show up. But no accomplishments either. The challenger was a relatively unknown first time candidate, but the community must have supported her (or clearly not supported the incumbent) as the challenger nearly beat the incumbent (who pulled less than 50% in the primary) despite being outspent 2:1.

    If Future Pac wants to improve the legislature, they should work with the Democratic leadership to weed out ineffective legislators and recruit those who can make a difference. People that have the potential for quality like the 1981 example above. If, after a number of terms, legislators (like the one in HD 16) don't capitalize on that potential, there must be a humane way for leadership to help counsel them out. This is especially true where there are relatively safe seats, and if quality replacement candidates can be found. If a better candidate is available, why not improve the strength of the team?

    Right now, it seems to be all about maintaining the status quo. Leadership and Future Pac should be looking to fill every seat possible with folks that have the quality of people like Merkeley, Hunt, Shields,Tomei, Dingfelder and the sadly lost Firestone and Steigler. Concentrate on the numbers, but get some power for the punch. When there is a better candidate, support them or counsel the other candidate out-- even if it is the incumbent. Oregon will be better for it.

  • Brian Grisham (unverified)

    The original question was, “Are the Oregon Dems crooked, too.” The answer is that there is no evidence. But to suggest that Republicans are genetically prone to corruption and we are not insults reasonable Republicans and exalts some in our ranks to a standard that will eventually be unmet. Tim, I think, hits it right on the mark as far the most recent warfare. It’s also good to know of your specialty, Tim. Dems can use more like you next time around. I know I could have a month ago. Jeff let me go you one better and say why this is a Republican distraction. Doyle’s corruption does not stop with Doyle but you’ll forgive me for not elaborating at this time. So Doyle resigns in 12 days. After using their rigged process, an inside man was chosen to fill the seat. Minutes after the replacement was sworn in, the Republicans held the press conference. I was there. During the press conference, Vance Day responds to the distraction question by saying, among other things, “Dan Doyle is a friend of mine.” After that, he produces Donna Butler who goes on about the allegations, admitting there is no proof of criminality but refuses to be videotaped saying so. Interesting messaging but, yes, total distraction.
    As for the separate matter of how the DPO, FuturePAC, and candidates coordinated (or didn’t) the campaign for the Oregon House? I’ll just say there are some informed people, some ignorant people, and some who are full of it. Unfortunately, if some of us were to respond to certain assertions with the facts, we would divulge information better left to more discreet channels of communication. Most people in this party want a win after what will be 16 years of Republican leadership in the Oregon House. One thing is certain; trying the same thing over and over again rarely produces a different result.

  • Sidney (unverified)

    Brian, In your view did FuturePac do a good job of picking viable general election candidates and supporting (or encouraging) the right primary candidates?

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    Like you, I was heavily involved in the recent election and had a lot of contact with FuturePAC (both paid staff and Legislator/management. As you may have noticed on this blog, I am no diplomat and I had my moments of critisism and disagreements with various parties including Jon. Still, compared to the sorry and ineffective nature of many of the '00 and '02 campaigns, these guys were light years ahead in '04. Regarding deconstruction of the '04 campaign, I was in the room while the FuturePAC folks went through the intial phase of self analysis and strategy assesment. This was something that our own (losing) candidate and the management at the DPO flat refused to consider. My money (literally) is on FuturePAC as the most effective group dedicated to winning for Dems in the state.


    I respectfully suggest that FuturePAC is more or less duty bound to stay out of the business of targeting members of their own caucus for political assassination. That is certainly the policy of the Dem Party from County to Federal levels.

  • Brian Grisham (unverified)

    Sidney, I could answer better with five pages of spreadsheets and two of analysis but that’s not practical here. Let me attempt a “declassified summary.” Did FuturePAC (FP) do a good job of picking candidates? In some cases yes but overall, no. Winning the house relies on more than just picking candidates, however, it includes support. You can have a pathetic candidate and win and you can have a wonderful candidate and lose. That’s just an example not an inference about real people by the way. Let’s not overestimate successes either. We were lucky to have great folks like Komp, Galizio and Riley run (3 winners). In the case of Riley and Galizio, however, we need to admit we were also lucky that Libertarians and Independents decided to run as well or we probably would have lost those seats. This doesn’t take away from the candidates and their hard work but a TKO does invite a stronger rematch than a KO. We also need better intel on the ground. We can’t simply say there are X% of Ds/Rs in the district (ignoring others), look at district votes on taxes and gay marriage and produce a target list. We need to become a political CIA. We need to infiltrate the state, not receive sporadic reports from outposts. We need “field agents” who speak the language and even live in the specific district. If this sounds familiar, it should, it’s covert operations. The Republicans get it and have been deservedly eating our lunch for a 16th year by ’06. A few more cycles, and they’ll redistrict. Once we respect how they do it instead of whining about it, we can exploit it. This networking and decentralization will give us the fertile ground that produces “coffee klatch surveys,” greater recruitment pools, and issue framing that will build and eventually earn us more seats and influence. Most voters will vote for a good candidate over a party. My district is (by the old method mentioned above) 10% R. Of all candidates, Bush to city council, the candidate who received the most votes in my district was Ron Wyden. Opportunity knocks…

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    I think your central point (in this and other posts) is correct: that each district is different and that the nuances of each should be given consideration.

    Also, I believe that learning from successful and unsuccessful races is important. However, unless something has radically changed for the worse, this is already being done.

    Both in 1998 and 2002, I was asked to give extensive debriefings on both our campaign (these were Senate races, not House) and ways in which the caucus can improve. And as I've mentioned before, I think FuturePac has shown genuine improvement.

    I don't know when your example happened of an out-of-district person wanting to walk key precinct X, only to find it unwalkable/too rural, but any field organizer worth his or her salt can read a precinct map and determine whether or not it's walkable. This can be done from Multnomah County, DC, or whereever. If this happened to a House candidate last cycle, I'd be suprised.

    Finally, even though I've defended FuturePac here and in other posts, I'm not trying to say they're perfect. I personally don't think the timing of attacking Kitts makes a lot of political sense. Kitts is a swing vote on some important issues; good luck getting him to switch on anything of substance now. I don't see why this couldn't have waited until after session for example... Also, I think in general, we should do a better job of thinking a few moves ahead.

    Anyway, as a whole, FuturePac does a lot more good than harm, and they've noticeably improved the past cycle.

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    I have to let my good friend Charlie Burr know, and therefore everyone else here on Blue Oregon, that, in fact, Future PAC had zero to do with any attacks on Rep. Kitts or any other legislator for that matter. As I stated above, the House Democrats strategy has been to use this as an opportunity to make bi-partisan progress on campaign reform. House Democratic Leader Jeff Merkley has specifically requested that every member of the caucus join him in not using the Doyle scandal for partisan advantage. There is a big difference, even if its not obvious, between the Party and Party Central Committees and the Caucus Campaign Committees.

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    Realize this is a long dead post, but wanted to clarify a point.

    I was not trying to say "play now, attack later" but rather "legislate now, campaign later." Again, I wasn't endorsing the merits of attacking Kitts post session, just that this is a distraction and that session should not be the time or place for this type of campaign hit.

    <h2>Also, duly noted brother Isaacs. Good to hear that it wasn't FP.</h2>
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    Realize this is a long dead post, but wanted to clarify a point.

    I was not trying to say "play now, attack later" but rather "legislate now, campaign later." Again, I wasn't endorsing the merits of attacking Kitts post session, just that this is a distraction and that session should not be the time or place for this type of campaign hit.

    Also, duly noted brother Isaacs. Good to hear that it wasn't FP.

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