Kevin Mannix loses his sugar daddy and other observations

Carla Axtman

I'm a little late to this story, but given how this has the potential to essentially end Kevin Mannix in Oregon politics, it's a pretty big deal.

Mannix's sugar daddy, Loren Parks (who has a, shall we say, colorful...background) has shut off the money spigot for Mannix.

Les Zaitz, The Oregonian:

One of Oregon's most high-profile political alliances – between Republican activist Kevin Mannix and millionaire industrialist Loren Parks – has ended in a dispute over money.

For years Parks bankrolled Mannix's runs for state office, his ballot measures and his charities but now has told Mannix he'll get no more money.

That has crippled the Oregon Anti-Crime Alliance, a group used by Mannix to crack down on criminals through legislation and ballot measures. Tara Lawrence, a former Sherman County district attorney who has been executive director since last October, confirmed she is leaving the job next month.

"Our funding has dried up," Lawrence said in a statement to The Oregonian.


So one guy bails out and the organization is "crippled" and their "funding has dried up"?

How the Oregon media ever thought this organization was a credible grassroots group is beyond me. It seems like the first obvious question for these groups going forward is: how many grassroots funders or dues paying members do they have?

The O story also details a web of money shifting through the Parks-Mannix connection:

Contributions from Parks have been the primary source of money for the Anti-Crime Alliance and its separate foundation. Federal tax returns show Parks through his own foundations gave $445,000 to the Oregon Anti-Crime Alliance Foundation in 2008 and $200,000 more the next year.

He also gave $125,000 in 2008 to another Mannix organization, Common Sense for Oregon. That tax-exempt group works on ballot measures and promotes itself as a watchdog for government waste. Ross Day, a Salem lawyer and Mannix business partner, is executive director of Common Sense for Oregon.

Parks also has been a major donor to a group called We Care Oregon, a Portland group providing support to faith-based organizations. In 2008, Parks gave the group $215,000. We Care Oregon reported on its tax return for that year that it paid $163,200 to the Mannix law firm for consulting. The group also donated $150,000 to the Mannix's Anti-Crime Alliance Foundation.

In a written statement, Mannix said his firm has done legal work for We Care Oregon, and he wouldn't comment further. The president of We Care Oregon didn't return telephone messages.

That isn't the only recent instance where money has moved through groups backed by Parks to private businesses owned by Mannix. Last year, the Anti-Crime Alliance paid $175,000 to a canvassing firm owned by Mannix and two others. The money funded signature gathering for Ballot Measure 73 and for a redistricting measure that didn't make the ballot.

Basically, Parks has been bankrolling Mannix in a huge way. Parks is likely not Mannix's only source of income, but he sure appears to be a main source. Mannix doesn't appear to be telling even his close allies why the money is drying up, but the O hints at a potential scandal in the works:

The state Justice Department is looking into Parks' contributions as part of its investigation of Oregon War Veterans Association. The Justice Department is probing several veterans groups to see if they are properly handling money.

The Oregon War Veterans Association is a $1 million-a-year operation in Salem that has lobbied for state laws to benefit veterans.

The Justice Department last spring demanded financial records, specifically asking for information on the Parks Education Foundation

Mannix's statement said his law firm has handled "limited projects" for the veterans group. He said his firm recently took over representing the association in the face of the state investigation. He said his law firm otherwise hasn't served as general counsel for the association, but Greg Warnock, the association's president, told The Oregonian that the Mannix firm "has worked for us for a couple of years."

Tax records show the association contributed $60,000 in 2008 to Mannix's gubernatorial run. Warnock said the group "has supported both Democrat and Republican candidates since 2003." The 2008 tax return listed only two other political campaigns – $1,000 to a Salem school board candidate and $2,500 to John Kroger's campaign for attorney general.

I expect there will be more on this in the not-so-distant future.

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    Amazing how these would be boot-strappers are all on the take. Another example of "astro-turfing." The billionaire Koch brothers are doing the same thing on the national scene with the tea-baggers and the GOP. I was glad to see Mannix lose his political patron. I was glad to see when Mr. Wendt kicked Bill Sizemore out of his digs in Klamath Falls and close his check book. Hopefully whoever is the successor to Wendt won't continue his legacy of political malice.

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    I'm glad to see Mannix shut down from within. He was very instrumental in working for workers compensation reform in the early 90's and did a few other worthwhile things. He then became a gadfly and a caricature damaging the state.

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