Friday, February 20, 2009

The Money Trail Leads to Some Strange Places

The Juniper Ridge Info blog did a fine job of getting the skinny on who got how much from whom in the last Bend City

Posted By on Fri, Feb 20, 2009 at 11:31 AM

The Juniper Ridge Info blog did a fine job of getting the skinny on who got how much from whom in the last Bend City Council campaign, and the results are intriguing - and in one respect rather surprising.

According to records on file at ORESTAR, the state's campaign database, Mayor Kathy Eckman raised a total of almost $38,500, of which nearly $17,700 - about 46% -- came from Central Oregonians for Affordable Housing (the political arm of the Central Oregon Builders Association) and the Central Oregon Association of Realtors.

Tom Greene (who happens to be the president of COAR) took in more than $27,700, of which about $16,300 came from COAH and COAR - nearly 59%. Jeff Eager got roughly $40,400, with about $20,700 coming from COAH and COAR. That's 51%.

Adding it all together, of the total of $106,600 raised by the three members of the builder/realtor slate, more than half came from just two organizations.

And that's not counting contributions from individuals involved in the building, real estate and development industry. For instance, Eager received $3,000 from various members of the Ward family - major Bend landowners and developers. Eckman got $200 from realtor Steve Scott, $250 from hotelier and developer Wayne Purcell and $250 from Justin Ward. Greene got $1,250 total from Justin and Kim Ward.

If you think those councilors won't remember who paid to put them in office I have a real nice oceanfront property in Burns to show you.

Probably the most intriguing discovery made by the blog, however, is that The Bulletin is on record as giving $4,000 in in-kind contributions (presumably advertising space and/or printing?) to the Bend Business PAC, which is the political arm of the Bend Chamber of Commerce. That's by far the biggest contribution made to BB-PAC in the last election cycle.

Wait, it gets even better: The candidates' contribution reports show that the same PAC gave $1,625 each in in-kind contributions to Eckman, Eager and Greene and another $1,625 to candidate Don Leonard, who was unsuccessful in his bid to unseat Jim Clinton.

We'll let the blog's concluding comment speak for itself:

"It is interesting to see our only local daily paper, the Bend Bulletin, has decided to fund some candidates in the City Council race as well as reporting on them. This would seem to be a major ethical violation by the elephant of local journalism. That's an interesting and somewhat troubling juxtaposition - our only daily newspaper funds a local political PAC that backs several candidates, editorializes for electing all but one of them before the election, and then editorializes for the last of the four [Leonard] to be appointed to fill the vacancy after the election. ...

"And this was done without any acknowledgement of the Bulletin's financial interest in the election.

"That's our Bulletin. And these are facts that need much wider knowledge in our currently financially challenged little city."

PS: If you want to see BB-PAC's report to the Secretary of State's office on The Bulletin's $4,000 in-kind contribution, here it is. 

UPDATE: An official with the Secretary of State's office now says she believes the report showing The Bulletin as the contributor was an honest mistake by the Bend Business PAC and has allowed the PAC to amend the filing to indicate that the Iverson Group, a Prineville ad agency, was the contributor instead of The Bulletin. Read about it here.

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