Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Developer and Bulletin(?) Funding of Bend City Council Members Campaigns

Orestar, the database that tracks political campaign financing in Oregon, has campaign finance numbers from through and after the election now. I have queried the numbers to track the investment local development interests, specifically the Central Oregon Association of Realtors (COAR) and the Central Oregon Builders Association (through their PAC Central Oregonians for Affordable Housing aka COAH) have made in the election of new Bend City Council members Mayor Kathie Eckman, Tom Greene (who is also the President of COAR), and Jeff Eager. These numbers are now sorted, summed, and available in several published Google spreadsheets linked below.

As Ms. Eckman made a very public and determined successful effort to become Mayor and so have some control of the proceedings, along with the fact that the three new members plus Councilor Mark Capell made a surprise choice for a new Councilor to replace new State Senator Chris Telfer by picking Oran Teater in a last minute "emergency meeting" that had no public notice and little media notice on a Friday evening, the weight of any special interests in their campaigns is worthy of public notice.

These three new councilors held a invitation-only meeting with local business interests before they were sworn in. And as recently as Tuesday, Feb. 17, the City Council held an all day meeting discussing goals with absolutely no public notice, and what appears to be no minutes, with a single media person in attendance, Erin Golden of the Bend Bulletin. This all-day Council meeting is not listed even now on the City web site, including the list of MP3 recordings, although this list does have the recordings of the scheduled work and regular Council sessions held the next day, Wednesday, Feb. 18th.

We may never see any minutes or hear any recordings of this, the first meeting of the Council after the very contentious emergency meeting to install Mr. Teater on the Council, a meeting which was called "crap" by Councilor Jim Clinton. The only public record of the Feb. 17th meeting is "Councilors set goals, economic strategies" behind the pay firewall on the Bend Bulletin web site. An excerpt from this Bulletin article:
"In an all-day meeting Tuesday, the council outlined its goals for the next several months, noting both the projects it would like to see completed by 2010 and those that might have to wait because of the ongoing economic slowdown. Among the ideas put on the city’s list: maintaining or building up Bend’s reserve funds, assembling an advisory board for Mirror Pond, developing a long-term funding solution for Bend Area Transit and annexing the airport into the city limits to help boost economic development. Set aside, at least for the near future, were other projects, including work on the Central Area Plan, which would provide a framework for downtown Bend and other areas in the central part of the city....

The meeting was the council’s first since it appointed former councilor and mayor Oran Teater to fill an open seat on Feb. 6. Teater’s last-minute appointment came after a month of tension between the other six council members, who were split over the appointment of Kathie Eckman as the city’s mayor and over the process of filling the seat left open when Chris Telfer stepped down in January to join the state Senate.

...Before moving on to the goal-setting discussion, the council took more than an hour to address the divisions that emerged over the past several weeks. During the conversation, some councilors said they were disappointed with how Teater’s appointment had played out, but were ready to move forward.

“I agreed to run again for the City Council because I believe I can do a good job and I believe people supported me for that,” Eckman said. “But I feel like my character has been called into question, and I am extremely disappointed because it’s been on such a public level.”

Others, however, said it will take more time for council members to begin to trust each other...."

There is an obvious public interest in the relationships between those that decide how to spend our tax dollars, whom to hire, and what to zone. Holding such an unnoticed and unrecorded meeting is against the public meeting laws of Oregon. This growing tendency to leave the public out of the process is not in the best interests of the City of Bend. Unfortunately, the only recourse available to citizens of Bend is at the ballot box every other year, or by filing a costly lawsuit in Circuit Court.

Here are those campaign financing numbers with short summaries and links to the entire funding lists:

Mayor Kathie Eckman Contributions
TOTAL $38,484.47
Self funding $8,538.76
COAH/COAR $17,671.34

Councilor Tom Greene Contributions
Total $27,729.34
COAH/COAR $16,292.34

Councilor Jeff Eager Contributions
TOTAL $40,359.34
COAH/COAR $20,671.34

Also, here are details of funding and spending by our local development PACs:

COAH Funding
TOTAL $115,263.40
Miscellaneous Cash Contributions $100 and under TOTAL $27,350.00
Central Oregon Builders Association TOTAL $79,106.92

COAH Spending

COAR Funding
TOTAL $37,102.80
All but $100 anonymous

COAR Spending
TOTAL $26,259.26

And a new one I noted, the Bend Business PAC:
BBPAC Funding
TOTAL $8,065.00
Bulletin in-kind $4000

BB PAC Spending
NOTE: $1625 to Eckman, Greene, and Eager is shown by the council members filings but not shown in the BB PAC filings. Filings by unelected candidate Don Leonard also show $1625 in contributions by the BB PAC

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. It then editorialized for the last of the four, Don Leonard, to be appointed to fill the vacancy after the election--not once, not twice, but three times. In fact, if you read the pre-election editorial on the Bulletin's preferred candidates, you see that even before the election the Bulletin stated
"Clinton’s opponent, Don Leonard, is one of the better candidates in the race. He has the misfortune of running against Clinton. Not to worry, though. Should Telfer win her Senate race, her seat will soon become available. We hope Leonard applies."
And this was done without any acknowledgment 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.

UPDATE: I have been communicating with the Secretary of State Election Office's Nancy Ferryon this subject. The latest communications from an hour and a half ago:
Dear Ms. High:

Re: Bend Business PAC (6024)

This is Nancy at State Elections. I spoke with Mr. Reinhart today concerning the political committee, Bend Business PAC. There are some issues that need clarification concerning past transactions and he did not have all the answers. He said he would contact you to call me, but I did not hear from you so I am writing this email. Here is a copy of the email I sent him yesterday:

"Dear Mr. Reinhart: A citizen in Bend has emailed questions to me pertaining the Bend Business PAC's financial transactions. He questioned the in-kind contributions to the four city councilors from Bend Business PAC for newspaper advertising in the amount of $1,000 each. I looked at all four of the city councilor committees and they have correctly reported the in-kind transaction from your pac. However, I am somewhat confused by how you reported the $4,000 transaction. You have reported this as a $4,000 contribution to Bend Business PAC (transaction 491087). Who actually paid for the ad? Did you write a check out to the Bend Bulletin or to the Iverson Group to pay for the ad? Did anyone pay for it? Did the Iverson Group pay for it and not charge your pac? Did the Bend Bulletin run the ad and not charge anyone? Please let me know what actually happened so I an ascertain whether this transaction is reported correctly. Also, I noticed that there have been no transactions in your committee since the end of October 2008. Is this correct? Has there been no activity, not even bank charges? Send an email to my attention or call me at 503-986-1518. Thank you. Nancy Ferry"

When I spoke to Mr. Reinhart today, he said that the Bend Bulletin did get paid for this ad. Therefore, it cannot be an in-kind contribution to your committee from the Bend Bulletin. I can help you amend the transaction but I need to know what happened first.

Also, I noted that you are not listed as an alternate transaction filer or a data entry person for this committee. That is something we need to fix as well and probably update the statement of organization.

Thank you for your consideration,

Nancy Ferry

### and ###


I just forwarded you a copy of the email I sent to Jennifer High. Let's see if I get a response. The only phone number listed on the statement of organization is for the Bend Chamber of Commerce. Yet when I called there I was told that Troy Reinhart works for NW Quadrant Wealth Management/Bill Moore and Associates, and they gave me a totally different phone number. But I do have addresses and if we need to do a formal investigation, I will get what I need.

Nancy E. Ferry
Compliance Specialist
Secretary of State
Elections Division
255 Capitol St NE, Ste 501
Salem, Oregon 97310-0722
phone: 503-986-1518
Fax: 503-373-7414
So the questions become: 1) Who paid for this $4000 ad just before the election and 2) Why did the original filings make it look like the Bulletin donated the ad, if they did not?


  1. Good going, Bruce -- stay on top of it. Something still smells peculiar here.

  2. I appreciate this work, but where does it end? What do we do when the know corruption is found to have left messy tracks?