Dwight Holton's day job raises questions

By John Springer of Portland, Oregon. John is a longtime political activist and retired technology manager active with the Occupy Portland movement.

On May Day, “Solutions” -- a spoke of Occupy Portland -- protested a questionable relationship between Attorney General candidate Dwight Holton and the downtown Portland law firm Lane Powell.

Lane Powell is a major law firm with more than 200 attorneys in offices located throughout Washington, Oregon, Alaska and London, England. According to their website, they engage in a wide range of business litigation, including a “White Collar Criminal Defense” division, which proudly defends dozens of large corporations against charges of price-fixing, tax evasion, water pollution, health care fraud, internet fraud, and other business practices that cheat and harm the 99%. On January 9, two days before he announced his race for AG, Lane Powell issued a press release announcing that Holton had joined Lane Powell as an “addition to our rapidly growing White Collar Criminal Defense Practice”. I wonder why defending corporate criminals while running for office is a great quality in an Attorney General.

According to a Portland Mercury article on April 26, Lane Powell also provides Mr. Holton with office space and phone service. There are certainly other business benefits. He has admitted that he is using the Lane Powell offices for campaign purposes, but none of the value given by Lane Powell to the campaign has been reported to the Oregon campaign finance reporting system. The law requires that every “in-kind” contribution be reported within 30 days of receipt and that every in-kind contribution since April 3, 2012, be reported within 7 days of its receipt. The Holton campaign has reported zero in-kind contributions from the Lane Powell firm.

Another unanswered question is whether the Lane Powell firm has been paying Dwight Holton a salary or other compensation since he joined the firm. If so, then what clients has Mr. Holton been working to assist? Since he works in the White Collar Criminal Defense division of the firm, I assume his work has been to defend corporations charged with criminal activities. If he has not been actually working at Lane Powell, then his salary or other compensation is would be a large, and unreported, campaign contribution from the Lane Powell firm.

Finally, Lane Powell proudly touts that (pdf) “Our attorneys are actively involved in legislative committees, bar and trade associations, and similar organizations where they play key roles in formulating proposed laws and help shape how existing laws are defined, implemented and enforced.” That would include Lane Powell attorney Shawn Lindsay, who is a member of ALEC's Public Safety and Elections Task Force, which provided the model for Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, but has since been disbanded under pressure from corporations dissociating from ALEC. Why would we want the next Attorney General working for a firm that writes ALEC legislation?

Protesters attempted to deliver a letter to Mr. Holton on May Day, demanding that he disclose these contributions from Lane Powell, explain his activities, and denounce ALEC, but they were blocked by security and told to leave the building. The letter is posted publicly here.

BethAnne Darby of the Oregon Education Association asked the Holton campaign to respond to the questions, and reported in an email to OEA representatives that the campaign told her:

"Dwight has never represented any corporation – to the contrary, he is the one candidate in this race who has put CEOs in prison for failing to play by the rules."

If Mr. Holton has never represented any corporation, that would appear to mean that he has been doing no work at Lane Powell. If that is the case, why is he shown on the Lane Powell attorney list for the White Collar Criminal Defense group? If he is being paid by Lane Powell, that money comes from somewhere, and the clients of that group are almost entirely corporations and wealthy individuals charged with crimes against the public.

"In regards to the office space, Lane Powell has invoiced the campaign, in accordance with the law. The “time” amounts to making the occasional campaign phone call or reviewing materials; hardly a matter of undue influence or grave public concern."

According to the Holton spokeswoman last week, quoted in the Portland Mercury, Lane Powell had NOT invoiced them and would not do so until the election is over, and there are no entries on ORESTAR (the Oregon campaign reporting system) for any in-kind contributions from Lane Powell. There is also no evidence of what use Holton is making of the office, phones, meeting rooms, parking, and reception facilities, except that Holton has admitted he has been using the office for campaign purposes.

Portland attorney Dan Meek has sent an inquiry (pdf) to the Secretary of State’s Election office asking them to publicly clarify that in-kind contributions must be reported at the time they are known by the campaign, not after the election. The Holton campaign surely knows about the in-kind contributions from the Lane Powell firm; the candidate’s use of the offices for campaign purposes is known by the candidate.

Every criminal deserves an attorney, but not every attorney deserves to be Oregon’s Attorney General. The public deserves to know the relationship between Dwight Holton and Lane Powell and why he chose to work to defend white collar criminals (and apparently to be paid for doing so) while campaigning on a platform to protect ordinary Oregonians from the fraud and abuse of Wall St. and the 1%.

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    So in their campaigns for attorney general, Mr. Holton is getting bennies from a law firm and Judge Rosenblum is getting free advertising from her hubby's newspaper. I don't like either situation one bit! They both come across as sleazy.

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        Do you mean to say, Hey, at least we're not as crooked as Chicago? I think these two candidates can do better than that. I have faith in their good sense!

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    This does not encourage.

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      I'm not sure this is quite as cut-and-dried as everyone seems to think. Candidates often don't report every use of their own property as an in-kind campaign contribution (and those who do are generally just trying to make their C & E look better than it really is).

      If Lane Powell allowed Holton to make personal use of his telephone and office as part of his employment (and for Lane Powell being able to include a former United States attorney on the masthead of their white collar crime unit), then this arguably isn't a campaign contribution by Lane Powell at all.

      In any event, this is a minor issue in a very robust campaign. Of course, as a Republican, I'm jealous; you guys have two strong candidates and we don't have a candidate at all.

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        Jack, there is no question that donating the use of an office, with or without related facilities (use of phones, reception, meeting rooms, parking, etc.) is an in-kind contribution to a campaign that must, under Oregon law, be reported on ORESTAR.

        ORS 260.005(3) defines "contribution" to include:

          (a) The payment, loan, gift, forgiving of indebtedness, or furnishing without equivalent compensation or consideration, of money, services other than personal services for which no compensation is asked or given, supplies, equipment or any other thing of value:
          (A) For the purpose of influencing an election for public office or an election on a measure . . .; or
          (B) To or on behalf of a candidate, political committee or measure.

        The 2012 Campaign Finance Manual, adopted as a rule by the Secretary of State, defines "In-Kind Contribution" as "An in-kind contribution is a good or service, other than money, having monetary value. The value of this contribution is based on the fair market value of the good or service. Fair market value is the dollar amount one would expect to pay for the good or service."

        There is no exception for an employee's use of an employer's office facilities for campaign purposes.

        This is well understood. Search ORESTAR for "in-kind contribution" and you will find hundreds of entries for office space, office & equipment, office rent, meeting room, conference room, office supplies, office space & phones, phone use, rent, staff time, home office, etc.

        Why be jealous? Someone will win the Republican nomination by write-in (James Buchal, if the Party's write-in campaign succeeds). And, if the write-in winner declines the nomination, then the Republican Party can, by party rules, nominate anyone it wants before August 28.

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          Dan, if Dwight has the right to use the office, telephone,etc. by virtue of his professional relationship with his law firm, then it isn't a donation by the law firm to his campaign. At most it is an in kind donation by Dwight to his campaign--just like the use of a room in his home or use of his personal telephone.

          I've never heard of a campaign being charged with an election violation for not reporting those kinds of campaign use of the candidate's property. I do know that candidates sometimes list those in kind contributions either out of an excess of caution or in order to run up their fundraising total so it will seem more impressive but I don't think Holton needs to do that.

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            Jack, your view of the campaign finance reporting requirements is just wrong. The office and its phones and receptionists and meeting rooms and parking lot do not belong to Dwight Holton, even if he works there. It is not "the candidate's property." It belongs to the firm. Use of those company-owned facilities for campaign purposes is undoubtedly an in-kind contribution from the firm to his campaign. Dozens of candidates in this cycle alone recognize that, as does Holton's campaign itself. Their confusion was about the reporting deadline, not that his use of the office was or was not an in-kind contribution.

            I will elaborate more later, if necessary.

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              We're getting into quibbles now, but it doesn't matter who the office and phones belong to but who has the right to use them. If Dwight, as a condition of his employment or other relationship with Lane Powell he acquired the legal right to use the office and phones for any purpose, not just his legal practice, the in kind contribution would be from Dwight to his campaign, not Lane Powell.

              Admittedly, Lane Powell's issuance of at least one invoice suggests this was not the case, but my point was and is that this is not a cut-and-dried as you and others are making it out to be.

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                Asking for compliance with state campaign finance reporting laws for amounts certainly in the thousands of dollars is not quibbling. I would be interested in seeing any legal authority you can provide for your view, which is contradicted by both the language and history of campaign finance reporting statutes in Oregon.

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                  Actually it's pretty obvious, Dan. You said above that the office and telephones belong to the law firm. That may not be true at all. It is likely they are leasing their office space and may even be leading their telephones.

                  If they granted Dwight's campaign the right to use the office and the telephone, that would still be an in-kind donation. But if, in return for his legal services as an employee or independent contract, they granted Dwight the right to use the office and telephone for his personal use, then use by his campaign would be an in-kind contribution by the candidate to his campaign, not by the law firm.

                  It's the same as when a candidate who rents a home or apartment runs his or her campaign out of it. It is an in-kind contribution from the candidate, not the landlord.

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                    So you are now claiming that, if the Lane Powell firm leases its office space and/or, then providing that space and/or those phones for Mr. Holton to use for campaign purposes is not an in-kind contribution? You really need to get legal assistance.

                    Also, even under your theory the value of the office and/or phones should have been reported as an in-kind contribution by Mr. Holton himself. It was not.

                    Finally, you again return to the situation of using a room in your own home or apartment. That would be analogous, only if Mr. Holton owned the office building and allowed his campaign to use part of it. I assert with great confidence that Mr. Holton does not own 601 Southwest 2nd Avenue in Portland. And, in any event, that would be an in-kind contribution of office space and/or phones from Mr. Holton to his campaign, which he has not reported.

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        He grew up in a Republican household (which happened to be a Governor's mansion)

        I don't have a dog in this hunt, and remain an undecided voter in this race.

        But I do want to set the record straight about what sort of "Republican household" Dwight grew up in. Given my partisan leanings, this was something I researched months ago when Dwight's name first popped up as a candidate.

        His father was one of the last of the dying breed of Southern Republicans - usually powerless because the racist Dixiecrat Democrats ran things in the South. In fact, Linwood Holton was the first Republican Governor in Virginia since Reconstruction -- but left the party as it shifted toward the right, and back toward the racist nonsense previously associated with the Dixiecrat Democrats.

        Here's a few clips from the Wikipedia article on Governor Holton. I suggest reading it.

        In 1970, when forced busing was an issue in Virginia, Holton voluntarily placed his children (including future First Lady of Virginia Anne Holton) in the mostly African-American Richmond public schools garnering much publicity.

        Think about that one for a bit. And here's more:

        Holton was a member of the mountain-valley Republican Party (GOP) that fought the Byrd Organization and was not in favor of welcoming conservative Democrats into the Virginia Republican Party. ...

        The increasingly conservative Republican party turned its back on Holton. In 1973, Mills E. Godwin, Jr., the conservative former Democrat who had defeated Holton in the 1965 election, was the Republican nominee. Godwin had supported Massive Resistance to integration...

        After his retirement, Holton had supported moderate Republicans, including John Warner. As the Virginia Republican Party became more conservative, however, he found himself more in line with the state Democratic Party, ultimately endorsing several Democrats for statewide office, including his son-in-law, Governor Tim Kaine. Holton endorsed Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential contest. ...

        As Governor, he increased employment of blacks and women in state government, created the Virginia Governor's Schools Program in 1973, and provided the first state funds for community mental health centers, and supported environmental efforts.

        So, yes, Dwight grew up in a "Republican household" - but it wasn't anything like what you and I would recognize as Republican today.

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          By random chance I just finished reading "Rule and Ruin" which is Geoffrey Kabaservice history of the fall of moderate and progressive Republicans. Though not a major figure in the book (Nelson Rockefeller and George Romney really dominate a lot of it) there is some background on Linwood Holton's election, and later purge from the the Republican Party.

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          Hey, I grew up in a Republican household too, and look how I turned out! At age 98, my mom did confess that she usually voted for the Dems but never told dad that. Let's not sink into lingering issues with our parent. K?

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        Substance abuse cost Oregonians $5.93 annually.Oregon ranks #2 overall, in the U.S. for recent illegal drug use other than marijuana.Oregon ranks #1 in the U.S. for past year use of nonmedical painkillers (like oxycontin and vicodin) among young adults in 18-25 year olds.Oregon ranks #1 in the U.S. for recent illegal drug use other than marijuana,among adults 26 and older. Oregon 8th graders drink and use illegal drugs twice the national average. One out of 8 Oregonians 12 and older have used an illegal drug in the last 30 days.

        Oregon ranks 47th in the U.S. for funding substance abuse treatment access, based on the number of drug dependent Oregonians. - SAMHSA, 2010.

        I met Dwight Holten attending one of his regional Prescription Drug Abuse gatherings. I sat in a room of docs, dentists, nurses, recovery experts, and law enforcement officers. By the time the meeting ended, Dwight Holten's compassion, factual grasp of Oregon's issues and humor earned my highest respect.

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            Dwight Holton would probably like tighter restrictions on the dispensing of marijuana. I listened to him and many panel members discuss that aspect. I believe he wants to avoid the problems that have plagued some of the 16 states where medical marijuana is now legal.

            Connecticut, recently legalized the use of marijuana. Connecticut's legislation calls for tight regulation and seeks to avoid disagreements with the federal government. Under the Connecticut bill, patients and their caregivers must register with the Department of Consumer Protection. In addition, their doctors must certify that there is a medical need - for instance, diseases like cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's - for marjuana to be dispensed.

            In Connecticut medical marijuana will be dispensed only by pharmacicts with a special license.

            The Northern California grows are fading away because it is so much easier to obtain medical marijuana in Southern Oregon.

            FYI: Oregon ranks #2 in the top 10 Drug abusing states. Rhode Island is #1, then OR, #3 DC, Alaska, Colorado, Vermont, New Hamshire, Montana, Hawaii and number #10 Washington.

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              Wow Paulie, what do you have against Rosenblum and why don't you want to see a highly qualified Oregon woman in this important Oregon legal position responsible for defending OREGON laws??

              Mistake above: Connecticut did NOT legalize marijuana, just approved a very restrictive medical marijuana program not unlike other East Coast versions which make access very difficult & expensive for patients. You clearly are not familiar with the Oregon program (considered a model for many for its nonprofit compassionate components) or those in other states.

              You've sat through presentations by Holton on drug abuse in Oregon and haven't questioned why he didn't focus on criminal cartels' monstrous & poisonous grows in Oregon and instead raided and stole legal Oregon patients' healthy plant medicine instead??? YOU HAVE LOST ALL CREDIBILITY!

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                I vote for the candidate I feel is most qualified. In the DA's race in my county I voted for the woman candidate because she is by far the most qualified. I have never met Rosenblum. Mr. Holton was in and around Jackson County numerous times and received the endorsement of the Medford Mail Tribune.

                Reuters quote - "The Connecticut Senate passed a bill on Saturday legalizing the use of medical marjuana for medical purposes, with tight restrictions."

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                  I have never met either candidate but have done my research, Ellen Rosenblum is clearly more qualified than Holton by far. She has much more(and relevant) experience overall, and even though she has also served as a federal prosecutor the vast majority of her exemplary service is in Oregon law. I for one want that kind of experience in my AG, not another Easterner of short tenure in Oregon. It is also way past time to give a woman a chance in this job for the first time, I look forward to a small difference in the woefully small percentage of women in top offices in Oregon!

                  I wonder if you follow all the endorsements of the Medford Mail Tribune. Is that a progressive publication?? Are you a progressive?

                  And thank you for correcting your earlier statement that it was legalizing marijuana (not medical) in Connecticut!

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            I do not trust Mr. Holton based on his past statements and his, as Mr. Sajo put it ridicule of patients. That is the most disgusting part. Ridiculing something you do not use, have use for or understand because it is "politically correct". Mr. Holton now claims to be more progressive in this area - I am not willing to have him in office and take that chance as I am a patient. I KNOW first hand what medical marijuana can benefit many health problems, I would now be blind without it. I do not care either what kind of house he grew up in but I DO care about my medicine, safe access and being left alone, not ridiculed or treated as a second class citizen. My vote is for Ellen. I have supported her from the beginning. I have no money so no one received a contribution from me but so far, I am allowed to vote and my vote went to Ellen. FYI, Dwight Holton is a very good friend of John Kroger's, whose "mysterious illness" that caused him to resign after finishing his term turned out to be a job as Dean of Reed College. He made sure his good friend Dwight Holton was securely in place to replace him but he got fooled. Ellen Rosenblum showed him and it is not as much of a sure thing as the same old same old had hoped. peace.

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    I just made another donation to Dwight Holton's campaign. This is nothing more than a mean spirited last ditch effort. Why don't you join me and donate to the Holton campaign.

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      Are you kidding, join you? Read my post above, and no one is being mean spirited. No patient in their right mind would give a vote to Mr. Holton and this guy is not even local. Shame on you last ditch effort to smear. I to not see anything from, you, Paulie, refuting this article just rah rah Holton.

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    Right, we wouldn't want an actual practicing lawyer to become Attorney General, would we? You must be kidding.

    Dwight Holton has the most relevant experience for AG.

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        If one was leaving the U.S. Attorney's office, and joining a large, high-quality firm that has both a civil and a criminal practice, there are very few firms in Portland that fit the bill. The excellent lawyers I know at Lane Powell (who I regularly oppose in cases) span the political gamut (or at least, a full range from liberal to conservative).

        Or to put it another way, there's arguably one white-shoe firm, that does criminal defense, that is regularly aligned with right-wing causes, and it is NOT Lane Powell.

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          Jonathan, This is not a liberal vs conservative issue. It's corporacracy vs democracy, and the division of LP that Mr. Holton is associated with is firmly on the side of corporations against people. Lane Powell appears to do lots of good work too, and I do not understand why Mr Hilton would have hooked up with the practice he did. I really wish he would explain himself, but he hasn't. And he hasn't fixed the campaign finance reporting, and he hasn't dissociated himself from co-worker Shawn Lindsay, R-ALEC. Is that too much to ask?

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            Really??? You mean, you'd say that my politics is associated with what my parnters' politics are? I'm actually proud to have a partner who is a Republican, and a partner who is an evangelical Christian. We have robust discussions, and appreciate the values that each bring to the table. The idea that you think Dwight Holton has to ostracize his law partners is -- at least to this lawyer -- appalling.

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    Potheads for Rosenblum!

    Really?!? I am a little surprised that Judge Rosenblum has not disassociated herself with the nasty politics that her supporters are engaged in.

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    Dwight Holton has caused our clients to lose their businesses, raided legal medical gardens and sent threatening letters to patients for implementing Healthcare reform. He earned the ire of the medical marijuana community all on his own.

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    Believe me, marijuana politics is not warm and fuzzy: it's mosh pit politics.

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    Hopefully, recent polls are correct and Oregon Democrats are going to elect Ellen Rosenblum, the more progressive candidate who is more in touch with the will of Oregon voters. But please, good Democrats, keep spreading the word about this issue and the candidates' differences on cannabis policy.

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