Gordon Smith's Lobbyist Problem

Yesterday's Oregonian reported that a close political ally of Gordon Smith, lobbyist Dan Lavey, may have crossed a line when he went golfing with the Senator in 2003:

Lavey joined Smith and four other Republican senators for a fundraising round at the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, one of the nation's top courses. At the end of the month, Lavey billed OHSU and its South Waterfront development partners $250 for part of his expenses, according to public records.

Political fundraising is part of the game for lobbyists such as Lavey and his firm, the Gallatin Group. But it's not supposed to be done on behalf of a public institution such as OHSU, said Davis, vice president of public affairs and marketing....  State law does not allow public employees to work on political causes on work time.

Off the golf course, Lavey and Gallatin have had extensive dealings with city and state politicians on behalf of River Campus Investors, the company formed by OHSU, and South Waterfront developers--which the Oregonian carefully documents. 

The relationship between Smith and Lavey goes back to 1991, when Lavey said he helped recruit Smith to run for the Oregon legislature. Their relationship evolved after that:

Lavey was Smith’s campaign manager for the Senator’s 1996 campaign. Prior to that, Lavey worked as the Senator's chief of staff in 1995, when Smith was Oregon Senate president. Before joining Smith's staff, Lavey worked in Oregon as a Republican strategist for the state Senate and for the Republican Caucus.

Though their current connections aren't as direct, the two apparently maintain a professional relationship. 

[N]o doubt the Coalition for Oregon’s Future, a organization opposed to off-reservation casinos, hired Lavey because of Smith’s seat on the Indian Affairs committee. Similarly, it doesn’t hurt that Lavey's client, Northern Star Natural Gas, has a connection to Smith who happens to sit on the Senate Energy Committee. And no wonder clients such as the Columbia River Channel Coalition and Conservation Fund hired Lavey, considering his old boss currently sits on the Commerce Committee, which just happens to regulate their industries.

As to the golfing trip, it's not clear that any laws were broken. The Secretary of State's Elections Division said it couldn't tell without a more detailed review.

This is the second story in as many months about Smith's close relationship to lobbyists.  In late June, Robert Novak reported that Smith was organizing a $1,000-a-head ski trip for Washington lobbyists in Utah to fund his 2008 re-election campaign. 

  • sasha (unverified)

    There wasn't much of a story here, except that Dan Lavey and Molly Bordonaro are milking the South Waterfront scam along with everyone else.

    But the real story was how Gordo threw Lavey under the bus saying he didn't need to be lobbied to cast his vote. Obviously Wyden is trying to make Lavey look as bad as he can, and Lavey's "friend" Gordo had every chance to say what a yoeman's job Dan did lining up the votes on the South Waterfront deal, and he didn't do it.

    Shows that Gordo's only real friend is Gordo.

  • anon (unverified)
    <h2>I have a friend who used to play on the slip-and-slide in Gordon Smith's backyard. He votes how she would like on many things. The secretary of state does not have enough information to conclude wrongdoing on Smith's part, but it seems fishy, if you ask me.</h2>
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