And it isn't even Hallowe'en yet (but no treats here, anyway). You've likely seen the ad on TV. It miscasts Rep. Knute Buehler's legislative actions regarding health care. Flashing on the screen just long enough to read is the sponsor information: Defend Oregon's Values. Setting aside for the moment that said group has chosen to defend the worst of what makes Oregon "special", the arrival of this never-before-seen PAC begs the question: "Just who is 'Defend Oregon's Values'?"
A quick perusal of OreStar yields some interesting nuggets. Formed mid-July 2018, it states as its purpose, "Defend Oregon's values and oppose candidate that threaten our progress" and lists as its director one Meg Niemi, whose day job is President, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 49 (Portland). Looking at the statement, one could point out that either "candidate" or "threaten" needs an "s" to make grammatical sense. Not to worry, Felisa Hagins, DOV's political director nicely settles that by saying, "It’s a committee we put together to talk about Knute Buehler’s record. We feel like it’s really important to know who he is.”
What really sets Defend Oregon's Values apart from the rest, though, is that this PAC identifies itself as a "candidate-controlled committee". As reported by Oregon Public Broadcasting, this means that it is "working on behalf of [one or more candidates]. Hagins said that her group is actually working 'in coordination with...'." That/those candidate(s)? Just one: Governor Kate Brown.
Per Jeff Mapes, reporting for OPB, "[DOV] reported receiving $100,000 from Brown’s campaign, according to a disclosure record newly filed with the Oregon Elections Division. Political committees connected to the Oregon Education Association and frequent [Democrat] donor Eric Lemelson also each reported giving $50,000 to the advertising effort." The governor's campaign also seeded a second PAC — Team Oregon, formed in early July, just before DOV — with another $100,000. "Team Oregon's stated goals are to re-elect Brown and 'support Democratic majorities' in the Legislature. Yet so far, all of [its] spending has been to pay the bills for Brown's campaign," writes The Oregonian's Hillary Borraud.
The Oregon Republican Party quickly jumped all over this activity by the governor's re-election campaign. Kevin Hoar, ORP Communications Director led a press release by saying, "With billions in tax hikes and her failure to fix education, homelessness, the PERS crisis, etc., Kate Brown has no record to run on. Now Brown is reportedly resorting to dirty tricks to run her negative campaign, falsely attacking Knute Buehler in a desperate attempt to hold on to power as her polling numbers flop." ORP Chair Bill Currier added, "This is just another unethical action from Kate Brown, who has made undermining transparency a hallmark of her time in office." Supporting his critique, Chair Currier pointed to holding PERS discussions in "complete secrecy", flouting public records laws, and "even trying to block some very legitimate FOIA requests".
Chair Currier concluded his remarks, saying, "Kate Brown's efforts to conceal her negative campaign are just the latest of these dirty tricks, Clearly, the Governor is increasingly desperate to salvage her floundering re-election campaign, but Oregonians are on to her tricks, wise to her failures, and ready to replace her this November with a sincere, effective leader in Knute Buehler."