Saxton takes nearly $2 million from polluters

Jonathan Poisner

OLCV PAC has just released a report documenting that Ron Saxton raised an astonishing $1,995,657 from corporate polluters, officers/executives of those corporations, and the PACs representing them through September 22nd – totaling 38% of his total $5.25 million dollars in contributions.

No doubt he'll cross the $2 million mark when he publishes his next C&E report on Thursday.

$1,483,450 of Saxton’s polluter cash comes from Oregon’s worst polluters – corporations (and individual executive/owners of those corporations) fined for violating state and federal environment laws.

Is illegal illegal as Saxton said in one of his tv ads? Should he return this dirty money?

You can see for yourself at:

Admittedly, many of these polluter have interests in Salem unrelated to pollution laws.

However, you can bet when they (or their lobbyists) come calling on a Governor Saxton asking for continuation of special tax breaks for polluters (yes, they exist, sadly), or weakening the state's global warming action plan, overturning emission standards for clean cars, or a myriad of other issues, a Governor Saxton would take them a lot more seriously than the general public.

Declaration of a conflict of interest: I work for OLCV PAC, which issued the report and is paying for the website and advertising of the website. Kari Chisholm built the website.

  • Righty (unverified)

    If the environment is your concern then I suppose neither Ted or Ron would get your vote.

    A vote for Gov. Kulongoski is a vote for a casino in the Columbia Gorge!

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    The world faces a crisis with global warming. On the one hand, Governor Kulongoski has a bold plan to promote renewable energy (25% by 2025). On the other hand, Saxton told the Register-Guard, solar and wind energy projects are "gimmicks" and he opposes clean car emission standards and a range of other actions necessary to tackle global warming.

    A whole host of other issues also differentiate the two on the environment.

    The notion that any true environmental voter would look at Ted's unfortunate support for the Gorge casino as a reason to say he and Saxton are "equal" is ridiculous. Ted's a strong environmental leader. Saxton would be the opposite.

  • Jim Craven (unverified)

    On the new "Candidates for Sale" website sponsored by the OLCV, various groups who have made contributions to various candidates are listed because they are PACs "who receive a substantial portion of resources from polluting companies and actively lobby against pollution safeguards."

    I represent the Oregon Council of the AeA (a national high tech trade association) and we wound up on the OLCV's website for a couple of modest contributions to candidates. AeA has always been a positive voice on the environment -- we've lobbied for DEQ's budget, helped craft laws on superfund cleanup, clean air, regulation of toxics, and community right to know.

    I challenge the assertion made by OLCV that our organization "actively lobbies against pollution safeguards." Prove it. If this means we don't always agree 100% with OLCV's agenda, then fine. But making this broad statement against a business group that has helped move Oregon forward on environmental regulations is just more of the polarizing, us versus them, short-term political theatrics that voters are getting awfully tired of. When you start calling our companies "employers" rather than "polluters," perhaps we'll have something to talk about.

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    ...and clean beaches, and clean air, and clean water, and healthy fish...

  • JerryS (unverified)

    Another troll, another donation!

    Actually, I'm not only donating this time, I'm making calls for Ted tonight and tomorrow night.

    Thanks Righty.

  • JHL (unverified)

    Obviously, Kulo's the better choice on the environment... but the "25 by 25" plan... wasn't that an OSPIRG plan?

    Seems the Gov's M.O. lately has been to take plans from other sources and paste a big "by Ted Kulongoski" sticker on the front.

    To which I say... hey - whatever works. So long as he's taking plans from all the right (or left) places.

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    To respond to Jim Craven, who asserts AEA has never "actively lobbie[d] against pollution safeguards," I could give you a dozen examples over the last decade. But I'll focus on just one.

    In 2005, AEA played a key role in killing legislation brought by the Oregon Environmental Council to ban the use of Deca, a toxic compound showing up in mother's milk. Some other states and California had taken this step. For more information on the dangers, check out:

    While AEA didn't stand in the way of banning two other toxic compounds that the industry was already phasing out, their position backing the continued use of Deca is exposing thousands of Oregonians to dangerous chemicals.

    I could give other examples, but the point remains: Ron Saxton is getting a tremendous share of his funding from interests that have a clear financial incentive to roll back environmental safeguards -- and a majority of his donations are from companies that have violated pollution laws.

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    Jonathan, thanks for the post. I really appreciate the big-picture view on global warming, which is one of Ted's strong points. Working to create systems of alternative fuels isn't just hippie grooviness. It both rids us of dependence on fuels from dangerous regimes and creates a local market for businesses who will create renewable and low-emission energy. Biofuel is cool not just because it reduces greenhouse emissions, but also because it has given the local economy a boost as people develop biofuels businesses.

    If we elect Saxton, I see no evidence that he will take the threat of global warming seriously or seize the opportunity offered local businesses.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    Saxton has never met a corporate exploiter he doesn't like. It looks a good reason for the $0 contribution limit for corporations in Fair Elections Measure 47, Jonathan.

    Of course, based on the positions of OLCV, BRO, Planned Parenthood and NARAL, they won't have any problem doing matching contributions to Ted. Right?

  • JHL (unverified)

    To veer further into the world of campaign finance reform... one of the things I like about Oregon's campaign finance system is its transparency. It's easy to see that Saxton is taking money from polluters and we can hold him to answer for that.

    Banning contributions from corporations isn't going to make them throw up their hands and go, "Oh well, I guess it's out of politics for us!"... Their money will still find its way to Ron Saxton and the future Ron Saxtons, but it will come under odd third-party banners like, "Oregonians for Food and Shelter" or "Committee to Promote Sunshine and Lollipops."

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    Nice sentiment, JHL, but the numbers tell a different story. Cycle after cycle, candidates who raise the most win over 90% of the time. It doesn't matter where their money comes from. Most voters don't get beyond name recognition and some ambiguous characterization of the candidates. So much for the informative value of all those flashy campaign ads. But, hey, they lead to wins, and that seems all that candidates and their funders care about.

    If you think Saxton's $2 million take from polluters will hurt him at the polls, you live in a fantasy land.

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    JHL is right -- "whatever works." But gettting to 25% by 2025 is the Governor's plan -- he set the target and his renewable working group is crafting the language. OSPIRG will be instrumental in its passage, no doubt about it. As will OLCV -- especially on the doorstep the next two weeks.

    I actually would make the argument the Governor gets too little credit for a lot of this. Take today's paper. An op ed by Oregon Environmental Council praises Republican Governors Schwarzenegger and Pataki but fails to mention Ted, who's obviously facing a serious challenge from anti-environmental candidates.

    Andrea Durbin writes, "Oregon has taken important steps to address global warming, including the adoption of clean-car standards that will reduce Oregon's emissions from cars by 30 percent.”

    It was Ted -- through an executive order -- who set these standards and defended them in court. And it is Ted, who is now facing nearly $2 million of polluter money being spent against him, as the post notes.

    But in the op ed (praising the work of Al Gore), Durbin writes, "It would be a mistake to dismiss his message as a partisan one."

    That's true on some level. Many rank and file Republicans absolutely support Gore's message, and Gov. Schwarzenegger definately deserves praise. But in this partisan contest for Oregon Governor, it would be a mistake not to recognize that one candidate gets it, the other doesn't.

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    One addendum: two weeks before an election, I understand why OEC would feel the need to omit Ted's work on tailpipie emissions to get an op ed printed. But it is an example of Ted's accomplishments being underemphasized, not overstated.

  • JHL (unverified)

    Tom, if you think telling corporations that they can't donate money to politics is going to keep corporate money out of politics, then you live in a fantasyland.

    Do you really honestly think they're going to pack up and keep their money out of politics?

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    Oregon does not have a transparent system of political funding. The Pew Research Center and UCLA School of Law annually give Oregon consistent "F"s in disclosure of campaign finance info to the public.

    Further, M 47 bans all corporate contributions, period. Under M 47, it would be illegal for a corporation to contribute to any PAC that supports or opposes candidates for state or local office in Oregon.

    When Measure 9 of 1994 banned corporate contributions, indeed they were banned . . . but only until the Oregon Supreme Court decided in 1997 that the Oregon Constitution does not allow any limits whatsoever on political contributions. Thus, the need for Measure 46.

  • JHL (unverified)

    Okay... I'm reading through the novel that is Measure 47...

    Holy crap, that thing is gigantic, long, and ungainly. Thanks for the long "findings" section at the front, Measure 47. It's always nice to see Oregon Law muddled up with findings and opinions that have no force of law whatsoever.

    So... honest question: (and I very well may have unknowingly skipped this part because of the sheer length of the measure) is there anything to stop BigCorp Industries from forming and funding the BigCorp Association... and then the Association forms BigCorp PAC and donates to the PAC?

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)


    Fair Elections Measure 47 is designed to plug the loopholes where corporate money will try to squeeze out. The regulations on elections runs over 300 pages. I don't think M47 is overly long to do what it needs to do.

    The findings section is important because courts often consider the reason for legislation. This is clear because of the findings included in M47.

    As to corporations creating front groups, corporate money going to candidates is illegal under M47, no matter how many committees it moves through. A corporation could legally form a small donor committee and accept contributions of no more than $50 from individuals, but $0 from that or any other corporation. We believe corporations will not be very successful at this, as employees and stockholders cannot be legally coerced into contributing. Corporations could also give bonuses to execs, hoping they will contribute. These contributions would be subject to limitations on contributions from individuals, so the huge amounts from corporations going into campaigns now would evaporate.

  • JHL (unverified)

    A) The findings in the measure are full of hyperbole and strong opinion, and any judge that cites those "findings" in a decision should have to wear Captain Kangaroo-style eapulets.

    <h2>B) As a rule: More sections in the law equals more room for loopholes. Not the other way around. And since the courts have already ruled that money=speech, it's pretty clear that not 100% of the measure is going to survive it's first court challenge, and we'll be left with a gigantic measure full of loopholes where large sections have been ruled invalid. I'll issue a pre-emptive "told ya so."</h2>

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