Robin Brown: Liar, Dupe or Nitwit?

T.A. Barnhart

I don't know if Republican Robin Brown volunteered or was recruited to run against a very popular, extremely qualified opponent in the House District 16 race, but I do know this: Karl Rove would be proud of her. With an opportunity to build her reputation as a quality candidate worthy of consideration in future campaigns, she's instead resorting to dishonesty, deceipt — and stupidity.

Yup, that's Dubya's party she represents.

Yesterday a large ad ran in the Corvallis Gazette-Times declaring:

We're sick and tired of it.

And then below that, the declaration that "Benton County Democrats" were joining "Benton County Republicans" to elect Ms Brown. Wow, what a coup. Robin was "Sincere and honest" and here was the proof: Local Dems have lined up to support her. Except, um, one slight problem:

Three of the alleged Dems are actually registered as Non-affliated; one is possibly a Republican (depends how she actually spells her name). Yes, a Republican going in disguise as a Democrat. Two of the listed Democrats — I guess that should be "Democrats" — are not Benton County voters, but there's no category for "carpetbaggers".

Here is the ad from the Sunday Gazette-Times:

dishonest ad for Robin Brown(It may be possible that the ad was not supposed to include "Carol & John Dingus". There are two voters by this name, one in Benton County and the other in Myrtle Creek. Carol & John Dinges are both registered Democrats — but they live in Lebanon, definitely not a part of Benton County. Either way, not good work by the GOP's crack research staff.)

I think you see the problem: Brown's ad claims she is as an "honest" successor to Tom McCall and an indeterminate "Morse", either Frank or Wayne, but I'm thinking neither would be too proud of this ad, although the formed did let his name get attached — as a Republican). Yet if she is so honest, why is her ad so deceitful?


Here are a few possibilities:

Robin Brown is a liar.

If she knew that several of the names listed as Democrats were not registered as such, then she is less in the mold of Tom McCall as Tom Delay. She is claiming to be a strong leader, someone the voters of Benton County can count on; my presumption, then, is that she knows exactly what her ads contain. As a competent and responsible candidate, she would have double-checked the registration of the people who were listed as Democrats; after all, she had to know we would do exactly that. And if she did do the responsible thing and checked the names, she would have found what we did: six of the putative Benton County Democrats are nothing of the sort. So to then run the ad is deceptive and dishonest, the act of a dishonest candidate. A liar.

But I'm willing to give her the benefit of the moral doubt. After all, she is a former Army officer; her training and record indicate a background of honorable service. So inclination is to think she's not being intentionally dishonest, that running a dishonest ad in the Sunday Gazette-Times was not her doing. Unfortunately, that leads to another probability, even less attractive than basic duplicity:

Robin Brown is a dupe.

If this ad was done on her behalf and she did not vet the information herself, then her alleged supporters have done her a huge disservice. Determining any voter's registration status is simple; I walked into the Elections Office in the basement of the Benton County Courthouse and asked to verify the registration of the listed Democrats. (Both parties and most campaigns have access to this information via the Internet, but I wanted to confirm I had the latest data, in case someone had changed their registration before last Tuesday; they had not.) So for starters, someone was really stupid to think they could get away with this shenanagin.

Here are some of the findings:

dishonest Brown ad - bad registration name

dishonest Brown ad - bad registration name

dishonest Brown ad - bad registration name

dishonest Brown ad - bad registration name

dishonest Brown ad - bad registration name

There ain't a lot there to be proud of. Lots of names, lots of false info.

This was not a small ad; it featured large blocks of color and ran conspicuously in Sunday's paper. This ad was a major buy for the campaign, and I think any of us would expect that a conscientious candidate would want to be certain that her ad contained true information. If, however, Robin Brown is blithely taking the word of people on something this important, it calls her competency in question. Imagine Speaker Minnis telling her a piece of legislation was "just fine" for Benton County — and instead it contained inducements to move HP jobs to East Gresham! This ad demonstrates the very real possibility of Brown's incompetence hurting her (make-believe) constituents.

So if Brown was not purposefully trying to deceive local voters, did she simply let herself get used to transmit the lies? Is it better to be a liar or a chump? Of which should she be more ashamed? Is it preferable to be caught in a lie or exposed as the dupe of her GOP handlers?

Whether Brown is a liar or a dupe, the following is hard to deny (to use one my dad's favorite terms):

Robin Brown is a nitwit.

Allowing herself to be promoted in the same echelon as Mark Hatfield and Tom McCall is an acceptable fantasy, the kind of hubris you're allowed when facing a hopeless battle to defeat an opponent who is eminently more qualified for the position than you are. But her ad, with her name in big, bold letters, contains lies. Whether she was part of the plan to deceive or incompetent enough to let others screw her over, this ad is not the work of a politically savvy person. Nor is it the work of someone qualified for public office.

Brownad2(And hell, I've not even got to the part where they claim the ad was designed by "Benton County Democrats" — which just happens to be the official name of the party of her opponent. I can damn sure promise the real "Benton County Democrats" did not design her ad. The designer may be a Democrat living in Benton County, but the use of our party name is dishonest in the extreme.)

The sad part is that Robin Brown appeared to have the makings of a serious Republican politician for the future. Yes, she never had a chance to win this race, but a good run could have positioned her for other local offices; and after that, who knows. This ad, along with mailing that quoted anonymous "Democrats" and which the Gazette-Times pointedly stated eliminated her from consideration for its endorsement, does serious, possibly terminal, damage to her credibility. Now, however, it would appear only desperation would induce Benton County Republicans (and pseudo-Democrats) to back her again. But, then again, desperation is about all that's left to a party as morally bankrupt as the Republicans. So desperate, they even invent members of the other party!

Now that's a nitwit move indeed.

  • (Show?)

    The designer may be a Democrat living in Benton County, but the use of our party name is dishonest in the extreme.

    And may possibly be a violation of your trademark rights. Consult an attorney.

    (And no, you don't need the little TM or the little R to assert trademark rights. Those just help prove your first-in-line status.)

    It might also be an election law violation, because if she's making a false claim that it was designed by the Benton County Democrats, then that may be prosecutable offense.

    Keep in mind that I'm not an attorney, and this isn't legal advice.

    Given the giant pain-in-the-ass that this will be, you might also just consider smacking her around in the court of public opinion.

  • snarfburger (unverified)

    This candidate has mailed out an unusually high amount of campaign materials. I got 3 pieces of mail from her office over about one week.

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    Kari, we'll take D, all of the above. we aren't about to let this slide.

    snarf, you must be local. can i get those from you? i probably have seen them but i'd like the complete set! you could leave them for me at the BCDems HQ on 4th, across from the Courthouse. thanks.

  • Dickey45 (unverified)

    Got 2 from Robin Brown yesterday, alone. I think I've gotten 1 or 2 more over the past week. Mine went right into the garbage :/


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    the Gazette-Times has a letter from Robin Brown this morning "explaining" how she's a "bi-partisan uniter". as you read the letter, remember how Bush was a "compassionate conservative" and a "uniter, not a divider." words are cheap, Robin, but lies carry a big cost.

    This week, I received a total of six e-mails and one phone call about the content of my recent Comparison Ad. If you have questions about it, please e-mail me directly, and I’ll clearly explain my positions. I am not afraid of telling people what my positions are; I just want you to hear them directly from me, rather than from an out-of-state Web site. This election cycle is not all about my partisan opponent, or her feelings, or what she deserves. It is about delivering what you as members of this community deserve from a state representative. The purpose of my ad was to share that I support more money for classrooms, including teachers’ salaries. I also support abstinence education in public schools. I encourage innovative ways to help improve our school systems, including funding public charter schools. I am endorsed by a true statesman, Sen. Frank Morse, as well as by many life-long Democrats and Republicans because I am not a partisan divider. I have used my campaign to build bridges between parties and diverse groups. My opponent spent 2004 running a negative campaign against her opponent. Calling me negative is laughable. I don’t intend to run a negative campaign. I’ll simply continue to prove that Robin Brown is the better leader and a more moderate, unifying candidate. We don’t need partisan politics in Salem. We need greater customer service from our representatives. I will provide that. Robin Brown

    it's good she pushes "customer service" since her only non-military experience is retail work. apparently it's her specialty.

  • Oregon War Veterans Association (unverified)

    Mr. Barnhardt, your dear friend Sara Gelser ran the most negative campaign in the history of Oregon’s public spectacles. Her personal attacks, with information directly from her best friend, the district attorney, ran Kelley into the ground, and then stomped all over her.

    Democrats in HD16 remember that, and that is one reason why they will not support Sara.

    Another reason they will vote for robin, is because she has already bridged the gap between people in both parties. Sara is a divider, and Robin is a consensus builder. It is that simple.

    I was asked about this ad, because our Board of Directors has endorsed Robin. And we found that nothing was wrong with the ad, though we knew it would spark some further discussion about Robin.

    Aside from the resorting to name-call, I found your comments way too biased to take seriously.

    1. Robin has had Democrats in her district actively working in her campaign. They are the ones coming up with all the ideas you are so ashamed of. The Dems for RB signs. The Ad in Sunday’s paper. Fund raising, etc. Dem ideas.

    2. The people listed in the ad are the ones who have signed releases for endorsements. There are many others who have endorsed her. More, different names will be presented in the next ads.

    3. The Democrat endorsers of the ad are Democrats. Affiliated or not. The purpose was to show that Dems and R’s have come together to elect Robin. The ad does not say: “we the undersigned are registered democrats in BC.” That was not even thought of, by the BC Dems who developed the ad. It was to show that there are real Democrats who are supporting Robin. However, I understand that they will change some of the names to reflect your concerns, since you have made such a stink about it.

    4. The idea that someone cannot refer to themselves as a Benton County Democrat, unless they are associated with the official party HQ, is ridiculous. BC Democrat individuals have always called themselves that. It is a matter of residency, not only a political organization. By the way, I’ll save you some time on the trademark issue. If someone comes up with a trademark violation and can support it with a letter from an attorney, I’ll personally ask them to remove the ad, even though trademarks are for commercial purposes, and there is no commercial influence here.

    5. Let’s face it. The real problem here is that Sara is, indeed, vulnerable here. And party, partisan Democrats are scared. (Or, Sara would not have personally run into the GT office with <bold>real, crocodile tears,</bold> about the ad….as the staff at the paper has been reporting. Which, if true, is very surprising, since she imitated a really, really ugly campaign in 2004.) Sara did not campaign this season. She simply sat around and expected everyone to vote for her, because she is so stinking nice. She is nice. But that doesn’t mean people will vote for you. Under different circumstances, we may have even endorsed her. We endorse the best candidate who is best able to carry our veteran, senior, and at-risk-youth legislation through both houses. We are working on 70 campaigns, including about 40% Democrat. The reality of this for us, is that Robin is a more moderate candidate, who is better prepared to advocate for all residents of HD16, not just the far left, as Sara has positioned herself.

    6. If Sara would have run a campaign, she would have probably won. But to sit back and expect to be elected, just because she is a democrat was not well advised. Too late now.

    During the election season, we are all stressed by issues and positions and alliances. But, fortunately, as Americans and Oregonians, we are all able to get back to the important agendas, after the election. Isn’t America wonderful?!

  • OWVA (unverified)

    Sorry about the rude misspelling fo your name, Mr. Barnhart. Please feel free to edit my entry.

  • Zak J. (unverified)

    Oregon War Veterans Association???? Are you kidding me? If you really represent such an organization (which didn't show up in a Google search), why does your link redirect back to instead of to your own website or blog? Or at least your email?

    Real organizations try to make it easy for people to know who they are and to get in touch with them.

    Sounds like "OWVA" is using the same playbook as Robin Brown. If I'm wrong, show me.

  • snarfburger (unverified)

    Notice a pattern in the last post? Owva doesn't use plain language.

    Plain language is using simple, fifth grade language to make a talking point.

    What are Sara Gelsers major talking points in this election??

  • JTT (unverified)

    OWVA? smells like another swift boat organization...

  • OWVA (unverified)

    Sorry for not using 5th grade language! We try to at least use 8th grade language.

    The reason for the blueoregon url is to keep spammers off our email/website. I get over 100 emails per day, and don't need any more spam than the rest of you.

    OWVA is a recognized, credible, war vet membership organization, registered as a IRC 501(c)(19)/170(c)(3) organization. Nothing at all to hide, and not formed for partisan politcs. Most of our work is charitable, as you'll see on our website. Many of Oregon's finest human beings are our members. Including several notable WWII veterans.

    Our membership has been involved in veteran advocacy since 2002. Many of us were involved with other groups before that. I belong to the Legion and VFW too.

    In 2002, we endorsed 68 candidates and saw 60 of them elected. We submitted, endorsed or other wise supported 28 bills in 2003, and saw 19 of them signed into law.

    Ask Vickie Walker or Dave Hunt or Peter Courtney about us. We are non-partisan all the way.

    (But this isn't about us, is it? It is about electing a candidate who will best represent the voters in BC.)

  • OWVA (unverified)

    Sorry Vicki Walker, for spelling your name wrong too!

    We endorsed Vicki, over a Republican Veteran. Tough choice for us, since our polls showed Torrey winning in that senate district.

    But, Vicki has been there for us, especially on our bill to get a severe injustice to disabled veterans unwound. Vicki fought DOJ with us.

    Torrey would probably be great for us too, but Vicki has already proven herself. She earned our endorsement and support.

    We are supporting Jackie Winters over Paul Evans for the same reason. Both tough races. Both included war veterans.

    No one can claim that we are partisan, or "swift boaters."

  • (Show?)

    folks, ignore OWVA. Sara needs no defending; she's an honorable candidate and legislator, and her victory next month will be a pleasure to celebrate.

    the OWVA is the only group to endorse Robin Brown -- the various fake groups sticking signs up around the district represent a handful of voters, some of whom, as i've demonstrated, can't even vote or her (or remember their party affiliation). i don't care if OWVA is legit or not; the writer has neither the guts nor decency to sign his or her name. (i get zero spams for writing in here, btw.) what more do you need to know?

  • (Show?)

    OWVA said: "The real problem here is that Sara is, indeed, vulnerable here. And party, partisan Democrats are scared. (Or, Sara would not have personally run into the GT office with real, crocodile tears, about the ad….as the staff at the paper has been reporting. Which, if true, is very surprising, since she imitated a really, really ugly campaign in 2004.)"

    This doesn't pass the sniff test. It's Brown who's putting out an ad that fakes her bipartisan support, because she knows even if every Republican in her district showed up to vote, she'd lose. With a 4,000-person registration disadvantage, she MUST win Democrats and NAVs in order to take the election. That's the part that seems desperate, citing people who aren't Democrats or don't live in the district as evidence of crossover appeal. It's neither "honest" nor "sincere."

    And the phrase "real crocodile tears" sounds like an entry in the Festival of Oxymorons. Crocodile = not real.

    Two other things:

    If you have charges to level about Gelser's negative attack campaigning, bring them. Otherwise you're just spouting.

    And they are referred to as DemocratIC, not "Democrat." That's a troll-word, which is why you are arousing suspicion. And does OWVA know you're speaking on their official behalf?

  • Suzanne Leis-Hansen (unverified)

    Some of you people are incredibly pitiful. Don't you have anything better to do with you life then whine and cry about bad dems and repubs alike? Get a life!!! By what I can see, Sara doesn't hold a candle to Robin, and some of you just can't stand that. You have the Kerry syndrome; you can't get over the fact that he lost and you have to keep complaining about it for years. Move on, for heaven's sake. Stop whining about the election and do something constructive!

  • (Show?)

    If we have the Kerry syndrome, then how is it that this race's "Kerry" is already the incumbent in a race likely to lead to "his" re-election? How are we supposed to whine about that?


  • OWVA (unverified)

    From your own website: Don't have a website? Use to hide your email from spammers.

    It seems that you felt like you needed to prod me to put my name on this. Your tactics are infantile. But, I don't care about that. My work with OWVA speaks for itself...and it is all voluntary.

    The fact is, this is not about me. And, I am representing OWVA, not my personal self.

    This race is about the voters in BC. They will make up their minds in a few more days.

    Our recent polls show that Sara is waaay ahead anyway, so my comments are probably made nill. We'll be happy to work with her on our legislation if she wins!


    Greg Warnock Oregon War Veterans Association

  • (Show?)

    tj, when i wrote this i didn't expect to be getting the kinds of laughs i'm getting from OWVA and SLH. i love the picture of Sara running into the GT in tears. omg. was her hair in curlers? did she have on her slippers? this is good stuff.

    i simply want Robin to live up to her words. she claims to be honest? o...k.... as for the Kerry stuff: huh? according to that logic, the conservatives should have shut down shop forever in 1964. weird.

  • Zak J. (unverified)

    Thanks, Greg. I respect anyone just a little more when he signs his name to his work.

  • (Show?)

    "Our recent polls show that Sara is waaay ahead anyway, so my comments are probably made nill. We'll be happy to work with her on our legislation if she wins!"

    er? Then why did you say this? "The real problem here is that Sara is, indeed, vulnerable here. And party, partisan Democrats are scared. "

    and "If Sara would have run a campaign, she would have probably won. But to sit back and expect to be elected, just because she is a democrat was not well advised. Too late now."


  • (Show?)

    he's pretty entertaining, tj. too bad he's dealing with you. actually, i bet Sara (and her family) wish she could sit back and win on party affiliation. instead she's been running her tail off (when she's not been down at the GT bursting into tears), taking Brown very seriously. campaigning as if she respected Robin, which she does.

  • Leah Bolger (unverified)

    I was one of the 6 people who sent Robin an e-mail about this ad. What follows is my e-mail to her, and her response: Hello Robin, I was really disappointed to see the latest tactic your campaign has taken. First the mailings which completely distorted Sara’s positions on education and reproductive choice—and I believe that you admitted that some of the information in that mailing was misleading, if not downright false. Then, yesterday I noticed several new, large signs with “Democrats 4 Robin Brown,” “Teachers 4 Robin Brown,” and “Seniors 4 Robin Brown.” These signs leave the impression that you have the endorsement of organized Democratic party, teachers, and seniors groups. Then, the ad in the paper! I want to give you the benefit of the doubt—that these tactics have been taken by the Republican organization without your approval—and I could have done that after the first incident. But now—you have admitted that the mailing was misleading, and yet more and more of the same untruthful, misleading ads keep coming out. The newspaper ad says that you are sincere and honest…even if I don’t agree with you on the issues, I’d like to believe that is true, but the advertising that is being done in your name isn’t honest at all.

    Please tell your campaign manager to stop distorting Sara’s positions, and promote your own ideas instead. Advertise the groups which have actually endorsed you, instead of deceiving people into believing that you have the support of groups that have not endorsed you.

    Leah Bolger

    Leah, I'm sorry you feel that way. I did admit that my first mailing was misleading- it was a mistake and it was corrected by the paper. I will not run a negative campaign and will not let a mailer distort Sara's position again. As for the signs, they are not a tactic and in no way imply that I am endorsed by any organization. Most of the signs are in the yards of people that they represent. I have Democrats for Robin Brown signs in the yards of Democrats, Teachers for Robin Brown in the yards of teachers and likewise with the Seniors. Again, the focus of my campaign is that I am able to bring together the diverse sectors of this community- and I truly believe that I can do that. As for the ad, I did not design it. It was brought to me by a group of Democrats and they asked if I would pay for it. I agreed because, again, it reiterates the focus of my campaign.

    I don't have all the answers on the issues of education, health care, and public safety. I do, however, have the skills necessary to bring together every side and every viewpoint and come to a sensible and logical solution that will benefit our community and our state. I am really sorry that you think that I'm leading a campaign based on falsehoods. I don't see how I could get more obvious about my intention of bringing together the polarized sectors of our community.

    One more thing- when I filed to run, I received about 300 surveys and questionnaires from special interest groups, unions, and PACs. I decided that since I was new to politics, I would stay away from them completely and just focus on the issues that I felt were important and therefore not be beholden to any of those special interest groups. That required me to raise money completely from the district. (I did receive $450 from special interest groups simply because I am a Republican. I did not chase their endorsements or ask them for money.) The funny thing is that since I am pro-choice, I do not qualify for the Republican's "in crowd" and therefore haven't received a dime from them. So who do you think I would be most loyal to? My party that didn't support me at all? Or my constituents which contributed about $20,000 in small donations?

    Finally, I did recently decide to accept money from the Oregon War Veterans Association. However, I don't feel uncomfortable about this since I strongly support their issues and agenda and don't feel that this could put me in an awkward position as a legislator. Thank you, again, for your interest, Robin

  • (Show?)

    Robin, o Robin, you are new to politics. claiming $20,000 in "small donations" from "constituents" when anyone with an internet connection can look up your C&Es? and what do we find?

    Derrick Luksch (South Beach, OR, doing business in Corvallis, O'Brien Denal Labs) - $5,000 Phil Doud (John & Phil's Toyota) - $1,000 Rita Desiderio (Springfield Gardens, NY) - $700 Karli Luksch (also with O'Brien Dental Lab) - $2,000 Patrice O'Brien (that name again) - $2,000 Brian Boquist (HD 23 representative) - $1,000 Jason Brown (Robin's husband, not the HD 23 Dem nominee) - $1,000 Paul Brown (Lebanon) - $500 Peter Meril (San Antone) - $500 Robin & Jason Brown - $1,000

    ok, let's tally those numbers:

    $10,000 from 4 contributors ($9,000 associated with a single business)

    $2,000 from the Browns theyownself

    $2,700 from non-constituents

    that's $14,700 of her total "small" contributions from her "constituents".

    you know, i was almost regretting this posting, feeling a bit mean. but damn. she could have done what she said, run a positive campaign, but dishonesty heaped on top of ineptitude, and the willingness to distort her opponent's very public record as if no one was paying attention.

    Robin Brown, say hello to my little friend, Mr Oblivion

  • OWVA (unverified)

    What's Sara's look like?

  • (Show?)

    who cares? She didn't claim she had only small donations. Are you SURE you're not a troll? Because this sounds just like the person who asked Kari, "does Ted know whether he hired any illegal aliens?"

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    irrelevant, dude. Sara's made no claims about her donations. they've probably come from all over the place, from a variety of groups. when she starts making false claims about her C&Es, then you can call her on it. (in the meantime, you can look up the links to C&Es yourself.)

    and just for grins, as opposed to OWVA being the single organization endorsing Robin, here's the list of just organizations endorsing Sara:

    Communities for Oregonians with Disabilities Coalition for a Healthy Oregon Citizens Alliance for a Responsible Education Oregon Building and Construction Trades Council Oregon State Council for Retired Citizens Oregon Nurse's Association Oregon Small Business Coalition Oregon Police Chiefs for Safer Communities Oregon Council of Police Associations Oregon State Fire Fighters Council American Federation of Teachers– Oregon Oregon School Employees Association Oregon Education Association United Transportation Union SEIU Local 503 Oregon League of Conservation Voters AFSCME Council 75 Oregon AFL-CIO Basic Rights Oregon Equality-PAC NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon Oregon Black Political Convention Mary's Peak Chapter of the Sierra Club Oregon NOW Equality PAC Oregon WIN-PAC
    see the full list at Sara's website

  • Suzanne Leis-Hanson (unverified)
    <h2>Leah Bolger's posting reinforces everything that the Oregon War Veteran's Association has said about Robin. Thank you, Leah! Do you want to sign on for Robin's ad? Sounds like it!!!</h2>

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