Busted! Can your primary residence be in two places at the same time?

The Portland Tribune has exposed a decade-old fraud by Ron Saxton:

Republican gubernatorial hopeful Ron Saxton used the address of his Southeast Portland home to run for his seat on the Portland school board 10 years ago while at the same time using a downtown residential address to enroll his son at Lincoln High School in Southwest Portland. ...

It raises the question: Can a person have two legal addresses of residency at the same time, one for the purpose of school enrollment and one for candidacy?

As long as the address used for enrollment is the student’s primary residence, it was a perfectly legal move to rent the apartment and live there for a year, according to the school district.

But Saxton’s run for school board raises a more complex issue: the definition of residency.

According to the school district’s policy, board candidates must “be a registered voter and resident of the respective zone to which they seek nomination or appointment.”


“It’s another sad display of the fact that people with resources can use the system to their advantage and privilege their children in a way that average folks can’t,” said Russ Dondero, a political science professor of 31 years at Pacific University and currently an adjunct professor at Portland State University, who said he has not decided whom to support for governor. ... Dondero, the political science professor, said Saxton went to great lengths as a parent to fulfill his responsibilities. “But as a candidate running from your home address while you’re living at another address, to me, frankly, is hypocritical,” he said. ...

Minority education activist Martín González doesn’t see any problem with using the system to seek the best educational option for a child. But he thinks Saxton’s renting an apartment made a statement about inequity between the haves and have-nots.

“The fact that he’s from a background of privilege, he’s able to do that,” said González, who recently founded a group called Portland Schools Alliance, which aims to boost parental involvement in schools.

“I don’t think that the rest of the folks are able to do that. The whole thing about school choice is supposed to be about leveling the playing field and providing parents a chance to get the best education for their kids. But economically, that’s still a challenge.”

And the real laugher:

“At the time, it was hard for kids to get into schools they wanted to go to,” Lynne Saxton said. “A lot of parents were looking for shortcuts. We didn’t use those.”

Hat tip to Saxton Watch. Discuss.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)

    Everyone knows two-faced people must have two homes.

  • (Show?)

    Best quote in the article, other than Saxton referring questions to his spouse. (What, is she going to be the real governor?)

    When asked how his son got into Lincoln, he replied: "Everybody who applied got in. I mean there weren’t that many people applying to the IB program. It was really rigorous and hard."

    Now that's funny stuff. And some people wonder why people like me have no trust in politicians.

  • Anoniman (unverified)

    School choice means you have to jump through the hoops to get where you want to go. It looks like he jumped correctly, but it musta been a drag to live in a 2BR/2BA apt for a year!

    So, where did TeddyK send his kids?

  • Sponge (unverified)

    Making an issue of Saxton taking advantage of his "background of privilege" as "a statement of inequity between the haves and and have-nots" is little more than class envy, and means little. The more serious concern is whether or not he was duplicitous in claiming his eligibility for the school board based on where he was living. Unfortunately, this kind of thing is not without precedent.

  • Don (unverified)

    The ironic thing is that Saxton's kid was in the same class as several friends of mine at Lincoln (I was at private school at the time) and never heard a peep of this. Additionally, to add to the fun, I personally know several of the people quoted in this story and have the upmost respect for them (particularly Peter Hamilton). Lets see what comes of this.

  • (Show?)

    Nice scoop Jen! I question the presentation here on BlueOregon though...the Trib story is about Saxton's judgment and willingness to comply with existing rules. The word "fraud" doesn't apply.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)

    I wonder what PPS' legion of lawyers down at BESC think about former school board member Ron Saxton using multiple residences for personal gain.

    Is it illegal? Immoral? Or both?


  • Eric (unverified)

    I agree with sponge - you guys are making a mountian out of a molehill with this.

  • (Show?)

    Um, Eric, did you actually read Sponge's comment?

    The more serious concern is whether or not he was duplicitous in claiming his eligibility for the school board based on where he was living.

    The issue isn't whether he used his wealth to game the system to get his kid into their school of choice. Lots of people do that. It's wrong and stupid, but fairly common.

    The bigger issue is that he sought to represent a district that he didn't live in. It's a basic residency requirement, and he failed it.

    Personally, I'm a little irked that no one caught it until now -- but that's what happens when you're unopposed.

  • Larry (unverified)

    "Um, Eric, did you actually read Sponge's comment? The bigger issue is that he sought to represent a district that he didn't live in. It's a basic residency requirement, and he failed it."


    I thought that was why Eric said: "I agree with sponge - you guys are making a mountian out of a molehill with this." (when sponge said: "Unfortunately, this kind of thing is not without precedent.")

    So, is this not the norm? Where is the mountain? I only see molehills.

    I mean, Hatfield did not even bother owning a home in Oregon for the last couple of his terms. He lived in DC, and slept in a hotel when he visited Oregon once or twice a year.

    What laws did Hatfield break? Probably none. Same for Saxton. Prove me wrong.

    Personally, I'm a little irked that no one caught it until now -- but that's what happens when you're unopposed.

  • Larry (unverified)
    <h2>"Personally, I'm a little irked that no one caught it until now -- but that's what happens when you're unopposed."</h2>

    I don't get this part... who was unopposed? Kulo? Sax? Sponge? Eric?

  • Jack (unverified)

    I would be so pissed off if I ran for the same position held by Saxton only to find out he didn't even live in the district.

    Ron Saxton is a joke. I've heard from so many people from work, people who are registered republican or independent - or not affiliated, who are getting very turned off by his negative add campaign. I hope this sample is representative of the larger population.

  • (Show?)

    Personally, I'm a little irked that no one caught it until now -- but that's what happens when you're unopposed.

    Saxton was unopposed when he ran for the School Board. He didn't have an opponent to keep him honest.

  • Jack (unverified)

    Well, that clears up my comment.

  • Bert Lowry (unverified)

    It's sad that the Republican candidate for governor needs an opponent to keep him honest. You'd think he'd use his conscience for that.

  • raul (unverified)

    of course Saxton is running as a law and order candidate-

    and as a good religious man who feels we should all follow the rules, this must be a mole hill-

    it really is ok to lie and cheat to get your child a better education-

    has anybody noticed that this guy will do or say anything to get elected?

    or the fact that this guy is proven to have lied at least this once- remember Clinton haters, is lying ok? even lying about " personal " issues?

  • (Show?)

    Ah moral relativity. How little it irks thems that employ it--even if they self-righteously impugn others. This is real; Saxton has some questions to answer that can't be explained away by apologists.

    (Not to mention the question of what kind of leader it suggests he'll be. But I guess I did mention it, didn't I?)

  • Eric K (unverified)

    So are all the people defending Saxton and saying this is a non issue also supporting Judge You? The residency issue is basically the same.

  • BlueNote (unverified)


    I heard that Saxton two-timed his girlfriend in junior high school. Any chance of getting that into the next Tribune blockbuster? Or is the Tribune too busy tracking down the lastest tip regarding Frank Gable's innocence. And if you don't know who Frank Gable is, you may not be a "real" Oregonian.

    I vote based on policy issues, not on whether the candidate pulled a few strings or used a loophole to get the kid into a good school. I won't vote for a Republican no matter what, but if I was undecided I might just credit Saxton for going the extra mile to get his kid a good education.

  • Eric K (unverified)

    Blue Note, you are again missing the point.

    The getting his kid into a school was taking advantage of the system, nothing illegal. Running for School board in the district his house is in while living in the Apt is fraud.

  • BlueNote (unverified)

    When you use the word 'fraud' you bring back my first year law school argumentative nature. First year law school was 30+ years ago, but as I recall, "residence" is defined as (a) a physical presence, plus (b) a CURRENT SUBJECTIVE INTENT to reside in such place. Your "residence" can change on a daily basis if your physical presence and subjective intent change as well. Think of all the people that used to 'reside' in Las Vegas for the two hours that it took to finalize their divorce.

    Again, I don't give a damn about the Republican candidate, but fraud is a very technical and very strong word. I doubt Saxton can be shown to have committed fraud. But maybe you can prove me wrong.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)

    Oh, yes, it's election fraud, IMHO. Check the Trib links.

    Ronnie signed the official PPS board election form in 1996 stating he lived at 67th and Taylor.

    That very same year, the Saxton family is listed in the Lincoln HS directory as living in some cozy, little condo downtown.

    So, Ron Saxton lied on an official election form rendering his election to the PPS School Board... invalid? Hmmm.....

    The Saxtons did not lie for their son. Ron Saxton, self-made man, or so he says, lied to get a big cushy government job unopposed. And big power. And, later, big Atter, Wynne partner money. And... the governorship of Oregon?

    Not so fast!

  • Michael (unverified)

    Dear Sid Leader,

    I must laugh: "big cushy government job." Hahahaha. Do your homework man. School board positions are VOLUNTEER. An important yet thankless job.

    From the PPS page: "Board members serve four-year terms without compensation and may be re-elected."

    Read all about it here.

    Further proof that so much of the blogosphere is a miasma of misinformation.

  • (Show?)


    I thought the phony residence was the one maintained for the purposes of getting his son into Lincoln. And the "real" residence was the one at 67th and Taylor.

    So he did not lie on the elections form. He maintained a second address so as to guarantee his kid entry into Lincoln.

  • (Show?)

    Hmm... like many here, I didn't read the story until after I posted. Have you read it? Saxton cleared this by Lincoln, by the major media outlets, and by the elections office.

    here's the key quote, folks: Citizens don’t necessarily have to change their voter registration address when they move as long as they intend to return, which allows people in the military, away on business or splitting time between homes a chance to register for the place they consider their residence, Irvin said.

    “Registration must be at your residence, but your residence is a matter of your intent,” said Irvin, who served as elections director from 1984 to 2002.

    As to Saxton’s situation, she said, “What we look at is if it’s legal. If it doesn’t present a problem, we have no reason not to put him on the ballot. Whether people think it’s right is a whole other question and doesn’t enter into the question of whether we should put him on the ballot.”


  • Amy the razor (unverified)

    Ron Saxton may be running as a religious man in his own mind, there are those of us who know better. I am a Republican forced to vote for another party candidate because I do not believe a word Saxton says. (Of course he doesn't either or he wouldn't flip flop) Then again;Maybe he has multiple personality disorder? That could explain the sudden changes in what comes out of his mouth.

  • Aaron (unverified)

    This is truly a non-issue. If we try to make it an issue, then we are purposely getting side-tracked on petty BS. That will make us lose time and energy on the real issues on this election: funding schools and good government services like: elections, the Contractor's Board, state DEQ, and Oregon State Police and Forensics division.

    If Portland Public Schools has stated this is okay. You all out there in PPS district should put pressure on the board to change the rules to be more fair and balance, if you dont like this rule. If you dont have time or energy too take this on, beyond making noise; then dont complain.

  • (Show?)

    aaron, i'm not sure that you're one to talk about whether election laws should be followed to the letter of the law.

  • (Show?)

    Saxton cleared this ... by the major media outlets ...

    LOL! No doubt. Like that means jack squat.

    I'm sure he cleared it by Neil Goldschmidt, too.

  • (Show?)

    here's the key quote, folks: Citizens don’t necessarily have to change their voter registration address when they move as long as they intend to return, which allows people in the military, away on business or splitting time between homes a chance to register for the place they consider their residence...

    Ah...so Saxton was "in the military"? Nope. "Away on business?" Uh-uh. Registered at "the place they consider their residence?" Well, which place did Saxton consider his real residence? We can guess it wasn't the apartnment with the yard sale furnishings.

    It's fine to love your kids and want to do your best for them. But cheating is still cheating no matter how much you may try to gove yourself cover by wrapping it in the flag of parental love...

    Non-issue? C'mon, people know a cheater when they see one.

  • Mister Tee (unverified)

    If we simply let the invisible hand do its job (let parents decide which school best meets their needs), then we could grow successful schools, and let the failed schools fail. You would also make each parent responsible for their own child's transportation, unless they opt-in to their neighborhood school (with a fixed bus route).

    Instead, the PPS Board has adopted a quantitative model to determine which schools COST THE MOST MONEY TO OPERATE (per pupil), and then closing the "expensive" schools irrespective of the quality of education they provide. If kids are allowed to attend the school of their parent's choice, the underperforming schools will die of attrition.

    Being a wild-eyed radical, I would also let the public schools compete with the private ones. If the per pupil government subsidy were portable, PPS would promptly realize they have twice the infrastructure they actually require. They could sell off those excess assets and create an endowment that would likely compensate for the more expensive needs of special ed, bilingual ed, etc.

    The teacher's union won't like it, but their high performing teachers would still have a tremendous following. Those teachers whose reputations prevent them from enrolling many kids would have to find a new career, or a new school district.

  • Robert Ted Hinds (unverified)

    My friends and I were overjoyed when this story broke, because it hasn't been so little known among local politicos and school district officials. Why is that? Because the Saxtons felt so clever about their scheme to campaign in Southeast while sending their kid to Lincoln that they openly bragged about it at social affairs, according to those who were present. The "above board" assertion by the Saxton campaign is honest in that respect, because they let it be known the same way one might flash around a Porche keyfob at the valet station. If some of those people in/around the scene at that time go public with their versions of events, and take a chance on Saxton not getting elected, then his campaign could be deeply wounded.

    Much thanks to The Tribune which broke this story. Excellent job. I thought it might break in the Willamette Week eventually, but I'm glad the Trib editors had the courage to go front page and go big on this.

    Yes, moving around and running for office in districts that are uncontested (or don't have anybody networked or capitalized enough to challenge you, it would be nice to see residency rules ammended to be one election cycle) is very common in Oregon for both Dems and Republicans. What it does reveal about Saxton is an eagerness to exploit loopholes and violate the spirit of the rules, if not the letter of the law itself. It also shows the character of somebody willing to exploit economic advantage. Just what we need from a governor. The Saxtons would probably get along well with Jack Abrahmoff.

    Remember the GW Bush story about how Daddy moved him to the front of the line and got him in the Texas Air Nat'l Guard to avoid service in Vietnam? That one exception for the rich kid meant one more poor kid got sent to fight and possibly die. Saxton could have used the money from the apartment purchase to pay his kid's way through Harvard, Stanford, or anywhere he chose. His kid didn't NEED the Lincoln program. Some poor kid who really needed that public education opportunity to get a leg up in the world was denied so the privileged could have even more privilege. That's the bottom line of this story.

  • raul (unverified)

    Mister Tee and the Invisible Hand

    First, as someone who has a child in PPS and who had to use the lottery system to get my child into a focus school, there are some big fat holes in your assertions.

    1. Using a for profit school system would be a dead end. As a public for profit company, you realize that investors want an increase on returns yearly. That means after " the fat " is cut, what comes next? How do they continue to increase profits?

    2. Providing transportation is what I do, at great expense and effort to our family. I am lucky, my employer allows me that flexibility, but my case is rare. Those who must be at work by 7am? Their children will not have a school choice, especially if the school is across towm. Carpool? Do you carpool to work?

    3. The students who are left at substandard schools, what is their future? Welfare? Incarceration? Do you see how this may affect your tax dollars long term? Do you see how this may affect your neighborhood and city when these children saddled with attending these poor performing schools are left to go it on their own?

    Wouldn't it be better to bring all of these schools up to a higher standard, as opposed to exporting our tax dollars to School,Inc. so that they can make a profit off of trying to educate our children? And maybe an investment in all of these children will in the long term reduce the crime rate and better our company by improving the quality of our workforce?

    Being a teacher is one of those jobs that you don't get rich at, most of these people are following a calling, and are making a lot less money than the average person with a Masters Degree. School improvement depends on the proper allocation of funds as well as parental involvement. Teachers can only do so much.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)

    I should have noted that the volunteer PPS board member job can very well turn into a very lucrative career later on a judge's bench or at a big business job, even Nike if you play your cards right.

    Then again, there's Mr. Jackson.

    The exception that proves the rule.

  • (Show?)

    Uh, Frank, you neglected to consider the last part of the quote: "splitting time between homes", which looks like exactly what Saxton was doing.

    Well, which place did Saxton consider his real residence?

    Well the letter of the law is that the individual gets to make that decision.

    Sorry, I still say non-issue. If this is the best ya got, no wonder Saxton is gaining.

  • Zak J. (unverified)

    This shows Saxton holds the true Republican world view: One set of rules for the rich, another set of rules for the rest.

    <h2>Is this illegal? Is it fraud? Maybe, maybe not. IS IT SLEAZY? Oh yeah.</h2>
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