Today the leading political blog in our great state, Blue Oregon, published a post that I submitted last night: "GOP flack Chuck Adams sleazes up Marion County charter change campaign."
I'm pretty proud of sleazes up. Already Google has the Blue Oregon post as the first hit for this term, which hopefully will go viral as an action word for what sleazes do.
It came to me in an intuitive flash as I was trying to think of a way to describe the highly deceptive letter that was signed by Walt Beglau (Marion County District Attorney) and mailed to county voters last Saturday.
Via email I've asked Beglau if he wrote the letter, or if someone else did.
Either way, the DA is responsible for the false statements in it -- including the ludicrous claim that a costly special election will be needed if voters approve the Measure and add two members to the Board of Commissioners.
Beglau wrote the description of the Measure that appears on the May ballot.
So he should know that section 12 C (vii) of the Measure says: "Commissioners shall be elected by plurality vote at the first general election held in November following the adoption of this Charter."
I suspect that Chuck Adams is behind the letter. His firm has gotten over $35,000 from the Chamber of Commerce's political action committee (PAC) which is leading the fight against a more accountable, efficient, and effective county government.
Adams is notorious for dirty tricks.
In 2006 an Oregonian blog reported how he got hit with a lawsuit for setting up a PAC that falsely accused a man running for state representative, Rob Brading, of promoting child pornography -- just because Brading served on a Library Advisory Board which didn't even control the filtering of library computers.
Rob Brading's campaign has sued to stop Friends for Safer Libraries from sending out campaign mail saying the Democrat "is responsible for children viewing internet porn in our county library."
The complaint, filed by attorney Jeff Merrick in Multnomah County Circuit Court, alleges the political committee and consultant Chuck Adams are responsible for "a false statement of material fact" in violation of state campaign finance law.
Adams is a longtime paid consultant to House Speaker Karen Minnis, a Wood Village Republican being challenged by Brading for the second time this fall.
"There has to be a bottom to the campaign attacks. And this lawsuit will define what is Oregon's bottom," Merrick said. "The point is, somebody's got to stand up to this vicious kind of baloney."
Well, if Adams did write the letter that Walt Beglau signed, both he and Beglau could face another lawsuit for violating Oregon election law (Beglau might also be in violation of State Bar ethics standards).
It's telling that the Salem Chamber of Commerce would hire one of the state's sleaziest political consultants to fight a citizen initiative that got on the ballot after more than 5,800 voters signed a petition to improve county government.
This is exactly why Measure 24-292 is needed: currently special interests, not the public at large, control the Board of Commissioners. With a three member Board, two people can run county government.
And since they are elected countywide on a partisan basis, it's difficult to hold them accountable for their actions. The Measure requires that commissioners be nonpartisan and elected by district, which threatens the Good Ol' Boy scheme the Chamber of Commerce likes so much.
Last Saturday my wife and I spent three hours walking around a neighborhood in central Salem, north of D Street and south of Market. We handed out fliers that accurately described Measure 24-292 and asked people to vote "yes" on it.
Our legs got tired. I forgot my water bottle and got thirsty. But it was satisfyingly honest volunteer political involvement. When we got home, we found the Walt Beglau letter in our mailbox, a deception paid by the $41,800 in cash contributions raised to defeat the citizen initiative.
Download Big Government No Way report
As the saying goes, Saturday was a great example of speaking Truth to Power. We and our fellow canvassers in support of the Measure relied on old-fashioned walking around, telling voters truthfully what the initiative would do for them.
The opponents sent out a mailing filled with untruths. They could pay the Postal Service to distribute their falsities owing to large contributions from powerful people:
$12,000 from Kevin L. Mannix, PC, a Salem attorney and (failed) Republican candidate for statewide office, including the Governorship.
$5,000 from Dick Withnell, a Chamber of Commerce board member who owns several car dealerships.
$2,250 from Mark Shipman, a Salem land use attorney who has represented clients seeking to build a Measure 37 subdivision on high value farmland -- which was approved by the Board of Commissioners over the recommendation of Marion County's Planning Commission and independent water experts.
$2,500 from Larry Tokarski, a real estate developer.
Hopefully the citizens of Marion County will see through the deceptive arguments of these opponents and vote to approve the Measure. Sleaze deserves to be defeated.