Smith claims he visits every county, every year. Let's prove he's a liar.

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

I don't normally listen to Lars Larson, but on Friday, I was sitting in traffic flipping around the radio dial - when I heard Gordon Smith chatting with Lars.

Gordo and Lars had a wide-ranging and chummy conversation, but one thing caught my attention.

Senator Smith mentioned that Jeff Merkley has challenged him to take a pledge to visit each of Oregon's 36 counties every single year, just as Senator Wyden does.

Gordon Smith actually said, on the Lars show, that "that's something I already do, by the way." (paraphrase from memory)

Update: Here's the relevant piece of the transcript from Smith on the Lars Larson Show on Friday:

"Jeff Merkley is challenging me now to visit every Oregon county every year. By the way, I do that. "


Seems to me a rather preposterous claim. I know how hard Ron Wyden has to work to get to every single county, every single year. There's some pretty remote places in this state. Heck, some of our counties are bigger than some other states!

If Gordon Smith is really meeting with constituents in every county every year, why is this the first we're hearing about it? I'm guessing that this is another bogus claim, that the Senator is making in the heat of an election.

But here's where the power of a blog can come in handy. In the comments, let's try and figure this out. Through the power of Google (and Lexis-Nexis, if you have it), let's start cataloging every single county where the Senator has been in 2008 and 2007. In the comments, tell us about visits you've found. Be sure to identify the county, the date, and provide a link to the source.

Why should we try and prove Smith's claim? Because by identifying where he's been, we can narrow our search to the places where he hasn't.

I'm certain that Smith is full of it. Now we just have to prove it.

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    [Full disclosure: My firm built Jeff Merkley's and Ron Wyden's campaign websites, but I speak only for myself.]

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    Let's see... Here's some resources to help folks get started.

    Smith's official press releases

    Smith's campaign "blog"

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    I have called and called and called Smith's campaign office over the last few of weeks, trying to get a date and time to see him at a public appearance (where I don't have to write a check). They have put me off every time. I've left my name and phone number multiple times, I have never had a call back.

    I've asked the Senate office in Portland if there's a public event that I can attend within an hour's driving distance of Portland in any direction--they never have an answer for me either. And fyi: they also don't call back.

    I know that Smith "visited" my county (Washington) this year on a visit to Hagg Lake. It wasn't a town-hall and it sure as hell wasn't announced to the public in advance so that we could show up and talk with him.

    If Smith has visited every county in the last year--then he's done a masterful job of hiding it. Where were these events? Did the public get any notice at all?

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    Wow. This may be harder than I thought.

    I just went through all the press releases on his official site for 2008. Every single one was bylined "Washington DC" and not a single one that I could find talked about him visiting a town in Oregon.

  • Details matter (unverified)

    Ron Wyden holds a town hall in every Oregon county, every year. Gordon Smith does not.
    If you count fundraisers, staged photo-ops, visits to Republican party meetings and echo chamber audiences, maybe Smith he does reach every county - maybe.
    But clearly Jeff Merkley's challenge is about the Ron Wyden style of availability, not the Gordon Smith/George Bush style of screened audiences, echo chambers, and planted questions.

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    OK, here we go...

    August 1, 2007. Smith announced a tour of Eastern Oregon that would include Hermiston, Ontario and Burns. That's Umatilla County, Malheur County, and Harney County.

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    Incidentally, here's a useful page from the Oregon Bluebook that matches up all the cities with their respective counties.

  • ws (unverified)

    36 counties.... . That could be a fair amount of work just getting around to and holding a town hall in each one throughout the year. Add to this, questions raised by residents at the meetings, and staff time required to keep track of and help answer and get back to people on those questions. Seems like a great idea though.

  • James X. (unverified)

    Well, that leaves just 30...

    Baker Benton Clackamas Clatsop Columbia Coos Crook Curry Douglas Gilliam Grant Hood River Jefferson Josephine Klamath Lake Lane Lincoln Linn Marion Morrow Polk Sherman Tillamook Union Wallowa Wasco Washington Wheeler Yamhill

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    Are we counting if Smith showed up but didn't hold a public event?

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    Smith visited Columbia County in January after the flood in Vernonia.

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    I actually saw Smith marching in the Hillsboro July 4th Parade with some local R's. The Washco Dems were marching about 8~10 groups behind them. When we reached the end of the parade Slick Gordy was long gone, I certainly did not see him chatting with constituents or anyone else. BTY, Ron Wyden will be meeting with folks Tuesday at the Washco Dems office in Beaverton, 5~6PM. Come over and say howdy to Senator Ron and thank him for voting against the rotten bailout bill last week. More info at

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    "Are we counting if Smith showed up but didn't hold a public event?"

    I'm sure Smith would count it, but I would say no. F'rinstance, if his plane stopped at Tillamook airport for gas but he never got off, did he 'visit' Tillamook County? If he drove through one county on the way somewhere else and hit the DQ drive-through, would that count? No way. I would vote for counting actual public events only.

  • LT (unverified)

    It seems that the Smith folks think showing up at an invitation-only event as visiting an area.

    When I was talking to someone in Smith's DC office when the bailout was being debated, I suggested he might want to appear and take questions from ordinary Oregonians.

    This person said "well he was at that Economic Summit recently" as if that was something ordinary Oregonians would know about and attend.

    Seems to me Smith and Wyden were both at some event at Willamette U. recently.

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    Both Smith and Walden are in Jackson County fairly often but they do not invite the public to their events. The events are invitation only to fellow Republicans. No one knew Smith was in Jackson County last Friday when the county funding payments were returned as part of the House vote. But there he was standing on the steps of the Jackson County Couthouse taking credit on the 5 pm TV news.

    Smith is debating Merkley in Jackson County on Monday October 13th. He also has an "invitation only" fundraiser scheduled at the home of the CEO of Harry and David.

    Senator Wyden is down here on the 12th and 13th. On the 12th he's campaigning for all the downticket candidates at the Redrock in Medford on Sunday and on Monday at noon he is attending a Future PAC lunch to help Lynn Howe, running against Sal Esquival for State Rep in House District #6.

    Jeff Merkley will be joining the Jackson County Democrats and the wider public at the 4 Daughter's Irish Pub in Medford right after the debate with Gordon Smith.

    Senator Wyden always invites the public to his townhall meetings and they are announced well in advance. I've personally attended 3 in the last year in a half.

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    "Are we counting if Smith showed up but didn't hold a public event?"

    I'm sure Smith would count it, but I would say no. F'rinstance, if his plane stopped at Tillamook airport for gas but he never got off, did he 'visit' Tillamook County? If he drove through one county on the way somewhere else and hit the DQ drive-through, would that count? No way.

    Well, let's give him the benefit of the doubt - since I'm fairly certain he'll fail the test, even with a very loose standard.

    If it was any kind of public event, closed official event, or closed campaign event, let's count it.

    Stopping for gas, driving through... no, that doesn't count.

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    Two things:

    Good work, everyone.

  • mp97303 (unverified)

    * We win! We win! Smith has caved and admitted he lied.

    I am not sure how "we win" when we catch a pol in another lie. How about catching a pol telling the truth, maybe then "we win."

  • Dale Thompson (unverified)
    <h2>He might have passed through Gilliam County on I-84 but I don't recall him stopping since long before he decided he was Barrack Obama and Ted Kennedy's best friend.</h2>

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