Watch out, residents of south Salem's Ward 7.
A tsunami of sleaze could be coming your way as the City Council race between Vanessa Nordyke and Reid Sund heats up between now and the May 2020 primary election.
I say this because Sund's campaign finance reporting indicates that Chuck Adams' firm, New Media Northwest, is working for the Friends of Reid Sund committee.
As you can see in this screenshot, there's a cozy (and rather incestuous) relationship between New Media Northwest and Friends of Reid Sund. In the sample of transactions below, New Media Northwest made $1,135 worth of cash and in-kind contributions to the Sund campaign. Then the Sund campaign paid $1,300 to New Media Northwest.
Chuck Adams works almost entirely for conservative/Republican candidates (I said "almost" because while I didn't recognize any liberal/Democratic names among the 51 successful first-time candidates on the home page of the New Media web site, it's possible Adams has worked for a Dem.)
Adams came to my attention in 2010, when I wrote a piece for Blue Oregon, "GOP flack Chuck Adams sleazes up Marion County charter change campaign." Excerpt:
The Salem Chamber of Commerce is leading the opposition to the Measure. This is to be expected, given the extreme pro-development and anti-environment leanings of two current commissioners, Sam Brentano and Patti Milne. The Measure is threatening to those in the Marion County power structure, because it would make the commissioners more accountable to ordinary citizens rather than special interests.
Even so, I've been wondering why the "No on 24-292" campaign has been so especially sleazy. Opponents have been way over the top with their untruths and fabrications. Today I learned the likely reason: Chuck Adams is the consultant supporting the Salem Chamber of Commerce's political action committee.
Adams is a long-time strategist for right-wing causes who fell on hard times back in 2007 when he was booted by the Republican leadership. He's been involved in some nasty "Swiftboating" campaigns, and has been called a "hit man," "pit bull," and "flack."
I can believe it, given the nasty deceptions in a letter opposing the Measure from Walt Beglau, the Marion County District Attorney, that arrived in voters' mailboxes last Saturday, May 1.
Now, hopefully Reid Sund will tell Adams that he wants to run a clean campaign against Vanessa Nordyke. But the fact that the Sund campaign is working with New Media Northwest, which is based in Salem, is a disturbing sign that Sund is prepared to go low when Nordyke goes high.
If this happens, I think the tactic could backfire against Sund.
People are fed up with the never-ending rancor and divisiveness in Washington, D.C. and don't want to see this at the local level here in Salem. It's fine that Sund is a conservative and Nordyke is a progressive. This should make for an engaging battle of ideas and policy positions that Ward 7 voters would appreciate.
However, Chuck Adams has a lengthy history of stretching the truth beyond acceptable political bounds. Here's some excerpts from stories in the Portland Oregonian that indicate how Adams has slung mud at opponents of candidates he's been hired to work for. I've boldfaced parts for emphasis.
SELECTED ARTICLE EXCERPTS ABOUT CHUCK ADAMS FROM THE OREGONIAN
EDITORIAL - Mud that will stick to Oregon's shoes
October 31, 2006
SUMMARY: A dirty, disgusting race in east Multnomah County will leave lingering stains on the state and its Legislature
That's not just mud supporters of Republican Karen Minnis and Democrat Rob Brading are flinging around east Multnomah County. It's poison.
It's the very stuff that makes voters thoroughly sick of politics and politicians. It's the toxic substance that lawmakers have tracked into the Oregon Capitol and the United States Congress, leading to sweeping paralysis in both places.
Now this poison is billowing out of House District 49. The first blast was a flier produced by Minnis' longtime political hatchet man, Chuck Adams, claiming Brading has "a history of supporting pornography" because, as a library board member, he opposed placing filters on library computers. Then Adams produced a mailer accusing Brading of "unethical and immoral" behavior --wink, wink, nudge, nudge -- when Brading, who is heterosexual, briefly served as an executive director of a gay-rights group 16 years ago.
EDITORIAL - An expensive race, and a cheap shot
August 31, 2006
SUMMARY: A flier saying Rob Brading has a "history" of pornography is ugly, and Karen Minnis should tell her allies to halt it
Mud is hard to throw. It sticks to your hands, flies off in unexpected directions and even, sometimes, winds up splattering the last person you'd want to dirty. Like, say, House Speaker Karen Minnis, R-Wood Village.
Minnis has found flecks of dirt sticking to her campaign ever since her longtime political consultant, Chuck Adams, and others began hurling gobs of mud at Rob Brading, her Democratic opponent in the Nov. 7 election. Minnis' supporters have produced a nasty campaign flier that features a photograph of Brading under the headline, "This man is responsible for children viewing Internet porn in our county library." It claims Brading has a "history of supporting pornography."
In fact, that "history" amounts to nothing more than serving on the 15-member Multnomah County Library Advisory Board and joining in the board's opposition to filters to block access to sex-related Web sites on library computers --even those routinely available to children.
Oregon Legislature Oregon's next election might be decided by a man you've never met
July 26, 2005
SUMMARY: GOP strategist Chuck Adams has quietly become a key player with a refuse-to-lose attitude that's won him fans and critics
...Some Republicans frown on Adams' approach, however, saying it is divisive and focuses too much on personal attacks. "The politics of personal attack are his specialty," says Rob Patridge, a former three-session House Republican from Medford who has known Adams since 1989.
Sen. Joanne Verger, D-Coos Bay, agrees. She has run for office every two years since 1990, but she says last year's campaign by Republican opponent Al Pearn was the dirtiest she's ever seen. She says the person described in Pearn's campaign, which Adams worked on, "had no similarity to me or my record."
Verger, who narrowly won, says her favorite example was a Pearn flier that claimed she had voted for $24 billion worth of tax increases. Adams says the number was an honest mistake. The flier was supposed to say $2.4 billion, but a decimal point was mistakenly left out, and the campaign acknowledged the error in a news release.
CROSSFIRE OF COMPLAINTS HITS TOP GOP CONSULTANT June 9, 2000
...Adams has run afoul of elections law before. In 1995, he pleaded guilty to failing to properly verify signatures on initiative petitions he submitted, a felony for which he was fined $1,000 and given two years' probation.
Adams also is at the center of a complaint lodged with the Elections Division involving the rancorous race for Salem mayor between incumbent Mike Swaim, who won the nonpartisan election, and challenger Glenn Wheeler.
Adams produced a controversial ad attacking Swaim, a lawyer, for representing a convicted murderer on appeal. The ad was paid for by Gordon Miller, a Salem dentist who is active in Republican politics, and was listed on campaign finance disclosure reports as part of an "independent expenditure" campaign against Swaim.
State law forbids coordination between someone who produces an independent ad and the candidate the ad is designed to help. But Adams also was Wheeler's campaign manager. In a complaint filed with the Elections Division, Vern Golay of Salem contends the independently produced ad violated state elections law because of Adams' dual role in the campaign: producer of the independent ad and Wheeler's campaign manager.
Fred Neal, state elections manager, said his division is investigating the claim. Swaim, who was angered by the ad Adams produced, said political consultants are too anonymous and should be held accountable for their work. "Adams ought to be appropriately spotlighted as the creator of this sort of gutter politics," he said."
POLITICAL MACHINE HUMS BEHIND LEGISLATIVE RACES
November 1, 1998
Summary: Paid professionals, party leaders, lobbyists and rich contributors almost invisibly coordinate the resources and direction of the most competitive campaigns
If you live in a town with a hard-fought Oregon legislative race, there's a good chance the campaign fliers jamming your mailbox came from one of the desks of two people you've never heard of -- Chuck Adams or Mark Wiener.
Neither are on Tuesday's ballot, but as two of the top mail consultants in this year's legislative campaigns, they could have more effect on what voters decide than the candidates do. It's their job to get your attention.
...Adams also produced a mailer for Gianella and Rep. Jane Lokan, R-Milwaukie, that featured what looked like a young black gang member pointing a pistol at the reader over the headline: "Welcome to the neighborhood." Adams insisted he didn't think about race when he chose the image from a national photo archive to vividly illustrate the issue of juvenile crime. But after critics, particularly African Americans, objected and said it unfairly stereotyped, Adams conceded that he might have made a mistake.
Adams and Wiener say that although voters might profess to dislike hard-hitting attacks, they respond to them.
"It's almost never just about what a person stands for," Adams said. "It's always about a mix. The point of that is that negative information is powerful. . . . People thrive on negativity."