Democrats file complaint against Independent Party of Oregon, question group's 'legitimacy'
The Democratic Party of Oregon, worried about the potential power of the state's fledgling Independent Party, filed an election-law complaint on Friday charging that the party's nominating process is controlled by a small group of insiders.
The complaint filed with Secretary of State Kate Brown claimed that just three leaders "have almost complete control" of the party, which "calls into question the legitimacy of the entire organization."
Independent Party Chairwoman Linda Williams said the complaint is "pretty baseless" and appears to be a "harassing tool" used by Democrats to crimp the minor party's growth.
Barry Pack, the deputy secretary of state, said a complaint of this kind is unusual and that it will take officials a few days before they decide whether it merits an investigation.
The Independent Party has new cachet this year because of a 2009 law allowing candidates to list more than one party nomination next to their names on the ballot.
As many as 60 candidates, including Democratic gubernatorial nominee John Kitzhaber, have expressed interest in the Independent Party nomination, thinking that adding the "Independent" label to their names on the ballot would appeal to voters alienated from the major political parties. Many voters who are unaffiliated call themselves independent, but have no connection to the Independent Party.
Independent Party leaders had hoped to boost their party's profile this year by raising money to hold an Internet-based primary open to the party's 54,600 registered voters.
But last week, Brown sent a "cease-and-desist" letter to the Independent Party warning that it was in danger of breaking the law because of the way it was soliciting donations from candidates seeking the Independent nomination. State law forbids offering such things as a party nomination in exchange for money.
Williams said she and other Independent leaders have not yet decided on a backup plan for nominating candidates. The state's other minor parties, such as the Libertarians and the Pacific Greens, typically hold nominating conventions open to any voter registered in their party.
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Posted on June 01, 2010
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