Carla Axtman of the Blue Oregon blog takes a look at the lobbying going on in favor of the proposed Metolius destination resorts and raises some intriguing questions. For instance: Why is Rep. Gene Whisnant, whose southern Deschutes County district is nowhere near the Metolius, getting contributions from resort developers?
Since the end of the 2007 legislative session, Axtman notes, Dutch Pacific Resources - which wants to build a 647-acre "eco-resort" within the Metolius Basin - has given about $20,000 in campaign donations to Oregon legislators and candidates and PACs, including both Democrats and Republicans.
Also, she continues, William Colson of Ponderosa Land & Cattle Co. "heaped a generous $15k to the campaign of State Senate Minority Leader Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day) in 2006. Ferrioli wasn't up for reelection until 2008, where he essentially ran unopposed. Color me cynical, but I'm going to guess that Ferrioli redistributed generous portions of that contribution among his GOP member candidates. There's no way to definitively track that money trail, but that's my educated guess."
Since the end of the 2007 session, Axtman reports, Ponderosa has given more than $32,000 to legislative candidates and PACs, most of it to Republicans. "Two of the benefactors, Ferrioli and Representative Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver), have gone out of their way to shill for the development. There is some possible justification for Ferrioli's work on this, as the proposals are within his district. But Whisnant? This is outside his constituency. So the only explanation for his involvement are the cash contributions to his campaign."
Of course that explanation isn't the only possible one; Whisnant could be supporting the destination resort because he just likes destination resorts, or because he's a strong property-rights guy, or both.
Axtman also takes a swing at Bend's Only Daily Newspaper, which she says "has consistently shilled for the developers and supporters of the resorts as well, virtually ignoring the uptick in support by locals for banning resorts at the Metolius. With the exception of a Nick Budnick piece this week on the Oregon Water Resources Department's second thoughts on giving water rights to the Ponderosa developers, The Bulletin appears to be the lapdog for those who flog these resorts. And from what I've seen, the PR departments of these interests have taken full advantage."