Record spending in Eugene in the Mayor's Race

Jonathan Poisner

The Eugene Mayor's race is shattering all records for fundraising, mostly driven by Jim Torrey, the former Mayor, who's trying to get back his old office. (In between, he ran unsuccessfully as a Republican against Vicki Walker in 2006).

According to the Eugene Register-Guard, as of May 5th Torrey had raised $215,097, setting him on a pace to easily double the most ever spent in a Eugene Mayor's race. Piercy had raised $109,383 as of the 5th.

To put this money in perspective for those Blue Oregon readers in Portland, there are about 85,000 voters in Eugene. By comparison, there are about 312,000 voters in Portland. If a Portland Mayoral candidate were to spend on this level per voter, they'd have to be at about the $800,000 mark as of May 5th.

From an environmental perspective, a Torrey victory would be a huge step backwards. Current Mayor Kitty Piercy has been a strong leader in helping promote sustainable jobs and a healthy environment, often having to break 4-4 ties on the otherwise split council. In contrast, when Torrey was Mayor, he routinely sided with developers in fights against neighborhoods.

As Alan Pitman with the Eugene Weekly put it a few weeks back,

"Jim Torrey has raked in record-breaking donations from developer, land speculator, sand and gravel, construction, timber and other special interests who stand to make huge profits from the urban sprawl and freeways he envisions as mayor."

Blue Oregon readers may want to show Kitty Piercy some support by donating to help her get her message out over the last week.

  • Just a dog (unverified)

    Kitty Piercy has all but destroyed the business environment in Eugene. Businesses have been flocking to nearby Springfield and leaving the mismanaged government of Eugene behind.

    On the plus side Kitty Piercy has helped increase the population of social-dependent occupants that contribute nothing to the community.

  • Lopsided (unverified)

    Now if you claim record-breaking donations is equated with something bad, then you must also - if you are fair - see the record-breaking donations to Barack Obama as bad as well.

    In the latter case, his money came from the criminal element - aka, unions.

  • (Show?)

    Lopsided writes:

    Now if you claim record-breaking donations is equated with something bad, then you must also - if you are fair - see the record-breaking donations to Barack Obama as bad as well. In the latter case, his money came from the criminal element - aka, unions.

    This hardly passes the straight face test. If you read the Register-Guard article, the challenge is a huge percentage of Torrey's money is coming from businesses who directly stand to profit from city decisions.

    In contrast, Obama's campaign, as has been well documented, is primarily funded by more than a million separate donors across the country. Business donations in federal races are illegal. And your suggestion that unions are criminal isn't worth dignifying with a response.

  • Hope (unverified)

    If jobs interest you more than unemployment then you'd better hope the climate in Eugene changes so businesses can realize a profit.

    The alternative is grim...

  • Lopsides (unverified)

    And your suggestion that unions are criminal isn't worth dignifying with a response.

    I think you'd better check with the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards. They post a monthly running total of union crimes - at least the ones they caught.

    This is a separate section of this agency to fight organized crime. This is the same section that Mr. Obama has told union officials he will do all he can to remove, under the false claims that organized crime is no longer in unions.

    Each year - hundreds ranging from theft to embezzling to extortion to racketeering and more. I don't know if this site allows links but here it is.

  • Dev (unverified)

    Honestly, Just a dog, its like you're using a fill-in-the-blank blog post template for cranky conservative business people. Does someone print a book of right-wing Mad Libs for you people?

    "(name of politician) has all but destroyed the business environment in (name of political district). Businesses have been flocking to (different political district) and leaving behind the mismanaged government of (first political district) behind."

  • Independent for Jim (unverified)

    The OLCV has donated more than $5,000 to Kitty Piercy's campaign. That's more than any single organization has given to Torrey with the exception of the Eugene Police Employees Association which is backing Torrey because Piercy's anti-worker, anti-safety, agenda is destroying morale in the Eugene Police Department.

    Torrey has raised $200,000, mostly from small local business owners in Eugene because he understands the needs of people in the City of Eugene. The assertion that these businesses are donating on a quid pro quo basis is insulting and laughable.

    JP: "This hardly passes the straight face test. If you read the Register-Guard article, the challenge is a huge percentage of Torrey's money is coming from businesses who directly stand to profit from city decisions."

    I read in the voter's pamphlet that you opposed campaign finance reform in Oregon. I see that your pac has raised about $39,000. Any idea how much of that money came from 5 or fewer donors? Do any of those donors materially benefit from policies you advocate for?

  • (Show?)

    OLCV opposed the statewide ballot measure (Measure 47) that, in local races like the one for mayor of Eugene, bans all corporate contributions, union treasury contributions, and contributions by individuals in excess of $100 per person (in primary and again in general). While other environmental groups supported Measure 47 (Sierra Club of Oregon, etc.), OLCV opposed it and actively endorsed a "no" vote, allowing its endorsement to appear prominently on the opposition literature and media ads. Measure 47 was enacted by the voters, yet the Secretary of State refuses to enforce it. I am currently in court to compel enforcement.

    OCLV also endorsed a "no" vote on Measure 46, the constitutional amendment that would have removed any opportunity for government officials to refuse to enforce Measure 47. Measure 46 would have amended the Oregon Constitution to expressly allow the enactment of limits on political contributions.

    I invite OLCV to file an amicus brief, supporting our position, in the Oregon Court of Appeals. Short of that, it would appear that OLCV is complaining about a result (no limits whatever on political contributions in Oregon) that OLCV itself argued in favor of in the 2006 election. If Measure 47 were being enforced, Jim Torrey could not accept any contributions from corporations or any other type of business entity.

    Note: It has been unlawful for federal candidates, such as Obama, from accepting contributions from corporations for 100 years. That is why his contributions come from individuals, because federal laws allows only individuals are allowed to contribute to federal campaigns.

  • (Show?)

    Lopsided is wrong. Federal law also bans unions from contributing to the campaigns of federal candidates.

  • (Show?)

    Hey look.... we just stirred up a whole nest of pro-Torrey blog commenters! Yayy!

    Everyone, please ignore the trolls, ok?

  • Aaron (unverified)

    Just so you know:

    Eugene made Fortune Small Business magazine’s 2008 list of 100 best places to live and launch a small business in the United States.

    She is also endorsed by The Register Guard and the Eugene Weekly. Not always common bedfellows.

    She is also endorsed by:

    Eugene Firefighters, IAFF Local 851 AFSCME Local 1724 Amalgamated Transit Union #757 Basic Rights Oregon (BRO) Joint Council of Teamsters No. 37 Oregon Natural Resources Council Action PAC Oregon League of Conservation Voters Planned Parenthood of Oregon SEIU Local 49 SEIU Local 503 Lane County Labor Council NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon


    State Superintendent of Public Instruction Susan Castillo Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives Jeff Merkley State Senator Floyd Prozanski State Representative Paul Holvey State Representative Phil Barnhart Lane County Commissioner Pete Sorenson Lane County Commissioner Bill Dwyer Eugene City Councilor Alan Zelenka Eugene City Councilor Andrea Ortiz Eugene City Councilor Bonny Bettman Eugene City Councilor Betty Taylor Former Eugene City Councilor David Kelly Lane ESD School Board Member Carol Horne-Dennis Eugene 4J School Board Member Alicia Hayes Bethel School Board Member Sherry Cunningham EWEB Commissioner John Simpson

  • Aaron (unverified)

    And from the same Eugene Weekly article that Jonathan quotes:

    "Torrey reported $160,694 in campaign contributions by April 21. Nearly three-fourths of Torrey's cash came from 41 contributors who gave $1,000 or more."


    "Three-fourths of Piercy's money came from contributors who gave less than $1,000. Only 13 donors — mostly frequent environmental contributors — gave more than $1,000."

    Large amounts of money isn't necessarily evil, but it is important to know the source.

  • (Show?)

    I don’t want to get in a comment flame war with Dan Meek, who I’m sure has more patience for it than me, but I’ll just say three things in response to his attack on OLCV because we opposed ballot measures 46 and 47 in 2006.

    First, OLCV has supported campaign finance measures in the past and we’d be delighted to support them in the future. But Measure 47 was written so poorly that it would have actually removed more progressive money from the system than conservative. That’s why one of its chief petitioners, State Rep. Peter Buckley, ultimately argued publicly for people to vote against his own measure.

    Second, OLCV was joined by a broad array of progressive organizations in reaching this same judgment. Other groups that opposed Measures 46 and 47 included Planned Parenthood, Stand for Children, Basic Rights Oregon, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon, Eugene Springfield Solidarity Network, and the Democratic Party.

    Third, it’s a complete red herring to suggest that the only options are Measures 46/47 and zero campaign finance reform. If Dan Meek wants to ban corporate contributions in Oregon, Oregon voters would probably do it in a heartbeat, but instead the effort has instead included a kitchen sink of other provisions, some of which would be nice, but others of which tilt the playing field, ironically, to benefit wealthy individuals.

    I’m not going to debate the substance of Measures 46/47 any further other than to suggest people refer back to the arguments in opposition to it at the time.

    None of this changes the fact that in this particular race, Jim Torrey’s victory would represent a huge step backwards for progressive leadership in Oregon. And As Aaron's comment points out, Kitty Piercy has been endorsed by a broad cross-section of environmental, labor, social justice, and civil rights groups.

  • (Show?)

    Third, it’s a complete red herring to suggest that the only options are Measures 46/47 and zero campaign finance reform.

    I'm not sure what that comment means except that you didn't like measure 46 and 47.

    I'd argue that you are wrong, obviously, in asserting that a constitutional amendment is not a requirement for campaign finance reform in Oregon, given the court's ruling in Vannatta.

    But here's my question: What have you done since 2006 to advocate for or against campaign finance reform in Oregon?

    I'd also appreciate an answer to the upthread comment on how dependent you are on big money donations for your pac's operating budget in 2008.

    Sierra Club, OSPIRG, and the Greens all supported those measures. The OLCV joined Associated Oregon Industries, Big Tobacco, and other major polluters in opposition.

    Just sayin'

  • (Show?)

    Yes, Jim Torrey may be very bad for the environment. But OLCV, by opposing the campaign finance reform constitutional amendment, directly facilitated Torrey's current big-money campaign. If the ccampaign finance reform limits adopted by Oregon voters in 2006 were being enforced, it would have been illegal for Torrey to have received most of the contributions he is getting. On the other hand, OLCV could have created a "small donor committee" (accepting only $50 contributions) and could have directed all of those funds (with no limit) to defeating Torrey. Instead, OLCV opposed the measures, without understanding them (IMHO), and thus certainly helped to bring about the current Torrey situation.

  • (Show?)

    Also, the endorsers of both Measures 46 and 47 included:

    Sierra Club of Oregon OSPIRG (Oregon State Public Interest Research Group) Oregon Small Business for Responsible Leadership Alliance for Democracy Oregon Gray Panthers Pacific Green Party Northwest Progressive Community Democratic Party of Clackamas County Public Action for Clean Elections (Granny D) Health Care for All Oregon Jackson County Citizens for the Public Good Native Forest Council Don't Waste Oregon Eastside Democratic Club First Unitarian Church Action Groups Women's International League for Peace and Freedom Gifford Pinchot Task Force Injured Workers' Alliance Physicians for Social Responsibility Rural Organizing Project (M 47) Universal Health Care for Oregon Utility Reform Project

    The most cogent analysis of Measure 47 was provided by Associated Oregon Industries, which stated:

    While supporters may think they are getting corporate and union money out of politics, they are actually giving unions a big advantage in electing their candidates. This advantage over business PACs would be gained by membership and collection infrastructure to form “Small Donor Groups” of people contributing less than $50. Unions currently receive the bulk of their donations from members at this level (which is collected by the state in many cases, but that’s another issue). These Small Donor Groups will be able to contribute to candidates in “any amount”, i.e. they are not limited by any other campaign spending limits set forth in the measure (Section 2 (ad), Section 3 (f)). While corporations or businesses may form these Small Donor Groups, the proposal limits aggregation to corporations and their affiliates, not business association based groups like AOI. Unions, on the other hand, are limited to the same labor organization unit at any level, which is no different from their current structure for political contribution collection.

    AOI understood Measure 47 and feared it. OLCV helped AOI in campaigning against it.

  • (Show?)

    Also, Jonathan is wrong in his assertion that the Democratic Party opposed both Measure 46 and 47. Regarding the constitutional amendment, Measure 46, the Democratic Party convention voted a neutral position.

  • Admiral Naismith (unverified)

    I predict a Kitty landslide. She's done a lot to reverse the damage of eight years of Torrey, and has a wide base of support throughout Eugene.

    Torrey's giveaways-for-corporations, jail-for-everyone-else conservative agenda isn't trusted here, and so he's resorting to attempts to confuse the voters. He's even lying about being a Republican by temporarily changing his registration to "Independent" and stealing Barack Obama's "Yes We Can" slogan.

    In reality, Torrey is as conservative as Limbaugh and only twice as honest. Hopefully his loss to Kitty will put his political career to bed for good.

  • Joe Smith (unverified)

    Not quite sure how an entry on the Eugene Mayor's race morphed into a debate over Measures 46-47 and the righteousness of OLCV, but for "Lopsides" info BO did allow me to go to the website you cited, where I indeed did find a depressingly long list of allegations against union officials -- but they all appear to be alleging crimes where the victims are the unions, rather than crimes against someone by the unions. Don't quite see how that supports the inference you invite that accepting Union money implies countenancing illegality. Of course, also can't help noticing that this is one more example of someone hiding behind a phony name.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    A Blue Oregon post morphs into a discussion of Fair Elections Measures 46 & 47, and I almost miss it! Actually, Joe Smith, is it not a clear invitation to mention M46 & M47 when the director of a group that opposed the measures complains about a situation that the measures would have prevented?

    Dan and Sal made the crucial points above. The only progressive groups that would have been disadvantaged by the Fair Elections measures are ones that refused to develop a base of popular support and rather continued to rely on large contributions from a few donors - a lot like like Jim Torrey's mayoral campaign.

    For instance, If OLCV raised its political funds from members giving no more than $50 each, the group could give Piercy any amount they like under M47. Unions could have done the same. And there is no limit to the number of small donor committees that could be formed.

    As I've written before, I believe progressives were duped into opposing Fair Elections by political consultants who wanted to see no impediments to the raising of campaign money, no matter how the measures would have reformed our political system.

  • JackBrown (unverified)

    Eugene's city government has been ruled by a series of seriously pro-business mayors as far back as I can remember... the same pinheads who tore down every building of any historical significance in the 60's in the name of "urban renewal"- when all it was was a grab for federal dollars. The same greedy bastards who chopped down half the trees in downtown to build a big parking garage for Symantec on taxpayer money when Symantec said they never even asked for it... people whose vision of what must be done for the good of Eugene's citizens ends with what good they can do for themselves and their friends.

    Like Jim Torrey.

    <h2>He had his shot, and we're never going back down that dark tunnel again.</h2>

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