Take a quick census of Oregon's big-spending conservative institutions from this election cycle, and you'll notice quite the pattern emerging:
Grow Oregon, the pro-corporate attempt at grassroots activity, fizzled out pretty quickly. Willamette Week reports that while the group had intended to serve as the conservative get-out-the-vote endeavor (among other things), they appeared instead to have mostly donated in-kind contributions to losing Republican races. Willamette Week wrote, "The group gave $12,500 each to three GOP House candidates: incumbent Reps. Matt Wand (R-Troutdale) and Katie Eyre (R-Hillsboro) and challenger Steve Newgard (R-Milwaukie). They all lost."
Oregon Transformation Project, one of the bigger players in Oregon Republican legislative races this year, left a clear paper trail of their finances showing that the group is both misleading and misguided. OTP appears to have served as the non-transparent arm of Stimson Lumber Corporation, and not even to great effect: $200,000 was thrown into losing Republican legislative candidates this cycle, including $57,000 into Manuel Castaneda's race, alone, who captured a mere 39% of the vote-- only about 9,000 votes.
If money can't do the trick, what should the Oregon Republican Party do, should they hope to connect with voters? The Oregon Catalyst Institute, conservatives' favorite "news site," expressed some insightful analysis into how the party might better connect with voters. Just kidding! Bloggers at Oregon Catalyst, in fact, threw a great temper tantrum in which they blamed everything -- the weather, the candidates, the business community -- everything, except for the platform, ideas, and values that the party espouses.
The Oregon GOP’s failures in this election cycle are glaring. They lost the 30-30 tie in the Oregon House, and are now on the losing end of a 34-26 seat gap. They didn’t come close to winning a statewide or federal race. Their Secretary of State candidate, Knute Buehler, held up by many in the party as the best hope for a statewide pickup, lost to Democrat Kate Brown by more than 8 points despite outspending her. They didn’t even bother running candidates in the primary for Attorney General or Treasurer, and had to mount last minute write-in campaigns to get a couple of candidates on the ballot, who lost by double digits to the Democrats.
Curiously, or not, OR GOP Chair Allen Alley refuses to acknowledge that his party might have a problem. From KVAL:
The state chairman feels the Republicans and the GOP agenda are not out of touch.
"I don't think so. I don't think the data reflects that. The voter registration numbers are moving in our direction. The results are better than they were in 2008. We're moving the ball forward," said Alley.
I guess it's not surprising that the GOP would need strategic advice from the Oregonian. (And it pains me to leave aside for how utterly ridiculous it is for Oregon's state paper to be, yet again, a cheerleader for the Republican party, but that's another story...**)
The fact is this: The reason the GOP can't mobilize grassroots efforts, the reason corporate spending didn't lead to victories, and the reason GOP candidates lose is simple -- the Republican Party is out-of-touch with the values most Oregonians prioritize. Oregonians, who care about their children, their senior parents, and their community, want a government that cares about funding schools, senior services, and other community programs. And that's simply not the GOP.
** It is another story, but I couldn't resist providing at least one little snippit from a piece on Sockeye last year as a reminder of just why the Oregonian might be providing advice to the Oregon Republican Party:
In the year and a half since the Oregonian was taken over by N. Christian Anderson III--who came to Oregon after running the Orange County Register and another right-wing publication in Colorado Springs--the newspaper has lurched to the right. First, the paper famously flipped its opinion on ballot measures 66 and 67 after its new publisher took over, then opened up its front page to advertising by opponents to the measures, and has since tried to censor political advertisements from the Portland Schools Bond campaign that Anderson also doesn't agree with.
N. Christian Anderson III is also on the board of the Portland Business Alliance, the very politically active chamber of commerce in Portland--an apparent violation of the Society of Professional Journalists' code to "shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity."
Last Tuesday's election results showed that Americans are excited about keeping the country moving forward, at all levels. While President Obama's re-election was certainly one indicator of the nation's mood, many important local issues were decided with the same enthusiasm and spirit.
Here in Oregon, our local results presented a voice worth hearing: Let’s invest in what matters.
Back in the May primary, 70% of Oregon’s local tax measures that help to fund programs from schools to firefighters to libraries were passed by voters. This Tuesday, Oregonians stepped up once again, passing more than 2/3 of the new, local tax measures around the state.
The takeaway is clear; Oregonians made their desires perfectly clear. They want to support their schools, libraries, police, parks, and other programs that make and keep their communities strong.
Unfortunately, despite this clear mandate, the ability of cities and counties to follow through on its residents’ desires may be limited. The state of Oregon has a property tax limit that supersedes local measures – potentially prohibiting cities from enacting the levies which their citizens have approved.
This tax policy began in 1990 with the passage of Measure 5 and continued with additional ballot measures that further limited local communities’ ability to pass new tax measures. These measures have led to tax policy that not only created funding challenges for local communities but explicitly denied local voters the ability to decide for themselves how to fund their priorities.
According to the League of Oregon Cities, “If taxes exceed statewide limits, any voter-approved temporary taxes are reduced first until the limitations are met, potentially undermining the will of local voters.”
So while Oregonians have shown that they are willing to pitch in to support the programs that they care about, the irresponsible tax policy put into place by Measure 5 means that it may not be enough to preserve these important programs.
In order to remedy this situation, it will require restructuring at the state level. And as it turns out, the Governor and other state leaders are currently examining Oregon's tax policy right now.
Hopefully, the reform proposals they eventually produce will allow local communities to decide, in meaningful ways, how to support their priorities.
Before the elections scandal in Clackamas County last week, Our Oregon filed a demand under Public Records Law for Clackamas County Elections to preserve all video footage taken from the locations where ballots are processed.
We filed this demand because of the long history of voting irregularities under County Clerk Sherry Hall, who also has a record of making ideologically biased statements in public. We also filed this request because of that office’s history of keeping observers from watching the ballot processing.
Just a little bit ago, we got word from the County Counsel that we’ll be receiving those video tapes and can begin reviewing them. Because of the high stakes in this election and the high degree of interest nationwide in this scandal, we wanted you to give you the heads-up about our next steps.
According to reports, the alleged ballot tampering happened in an area not covered by the cameras. The fact that ballot processing is allowed to happen in an area shielded from cameras is itself a big problem, but the counting of the vote going forward will be videotaped and we’ll be reviewing the footage.
There are many hours of footage to review, but we hope to share more information with you soon. In the meantime, add your name to the petition calling for fair elections in Clackamas County, and we’ll make sure to keep you updated.
Clackamas County’s Elections Office is under investigation for alleged ballot tampering to benefit Republican candidates, and now the same office has come under fire for calling the police to harass Democratic canvassers.
County Clerk Sherry Hall has a record of making politically charged statements that have revealed her right-wing bias, raising doubts around the state that she can administer a fair election.
Hall is independently elected, and she's directly responsible for the integrity of elections in the county. But, simply put, there’s no reason to have any confidence in the integrity of the elections process in Clackamas County, and that’s an outrage.
This doesn’t just affect Clackamas County. The vote count in Clackamas will impact many statewide races, and will even likely determine who holds the majority in the Oregon House of Representatives.
The Department of Justice is currently investigating Sherry Hall’s office, but we also need to raise our voice and make it clear across the state that Hall’s record of voting irregularities and political bias is unacceptable.
By signing this petition, we’re demanding clean and fair elections in Clackamas County, and making it clear that we will not stand for Sherry Hall’s tactics any longer.
Our goal is to have 1,000 people sign this petition, representing every county in Oregon. Please forward it on to your friends through email, Facebook, and Twitter so we can spread the word far and wide.
Use this link to share on Facebook and Twitter: http://bit.ly/SKkfge
The question has become resounding... what in the heck is going on in Clackamas County Elections?
In the past few years, the office has been the source of elections irregularities that have called into question the integrity of the elections in the county. County Clerk Sherry Hall's record of making partisan statements have made her a champion of the Tea Party, but have raised major alarm bells with everyone else.
Yesterday, the question asked by the press, by voters, and even by Clackamas County Commissioners was if the credibility of Clerk Sherry Hall’s office could sink any lower.
Yes, it turns out. Yesterday evening—on the same day the Department of Justice announced it was investigating Hall’s office for ballot tampering—news came out that the Clackamas County Elections office sent out the West Linn police to stop two Democratic volunteers from engaging in perfectly legal Get-Out-The-Vote activity. These volunteers were accepting ballots from voters as part of their GOTV effort, which is allowed as long as they have a sign saying they are unofficial, which they did.
If voters want to give canvassers their completed, sealed ballots to turn in, they can under Oregon law. That's been the law since the Vote By Mail began. Yet Sherry Hall's office appears to have intentionally sent the police to harass the Democratic canvassers to prevent them from collecting ballots.
At this point, the evidence that Sherry Hall can’t be trusted to administer a fair elections process is overwhelming. Her office is being investigated for tampering with ballots to benefit Republican candidates, and it now looks like they’re trying to suppress volunteer efforts by Democrats.
Sherry Hall may be the Tea Party’s favorite elections official, but everybody else in the state should be outraged by what's going on under her watch.
Measure 84's chief sponsor admits he's not a tax attorney and he's not an estate planner. That's obvious! Because tax attorneys, estate planners, and CPAs agree: Measure 84 is a bad idea!
This morning, Willamette Week and the Oregonian reported that the Department of Justice is investigating alleged election fraud at the Clackamas County Elections Office, which is run by Clerk Sherry Hall.
This isn’t the first scandal to come out of Hall’s office, which is why days ago (even before this latest evidence emerged), Our Oregon filed a public records request to demand deeper scrutiny of the office because of past high-profile elections irregularities.
After years of seeing costly, suspicious foul-ups and voting irregularities in Clackamas County, Our Oregon demanded under Oregon Public Records Law (ORS 192.410 to 192.505) that all video tape files taken of the elections office where ballots are processed be preserved for review. The records request includes round-the-clock footage, plus records of anyone signing into and out of the balloting facility.
The latest fraud scandal to emerge from the clerk’s office involves a county elections employee allegedly filling in ballots in support of Republican candidates.
“Sherry Hall has become Oregon’s own Katherine Harris,” says Patrick Green, executive director of Our Oregon, referring to Florida’s controversial former Secretary of State. “We are putting her on notice that we’ll be watching."
"She clearly has the means, motive and opportunity to interfere in the fair administration of the election," Green added.
The latest apparent fraud is only the latest in a series of scandals under Sherry Hall that have cost the county thousands of dollars and called into question the credibility of the elections office. The State Elections Office has twice had to step in to monitor the Clackamas County Elections office. A special monitor was sent by the state to oversee the May 2010 primary, on which Hall appeared as a candidate. Last fall, State Elections Director Steven Trout had to step in to oversee a signature verification process in which Hall’s office had erroneously accepted invalid signatures.
Hall has a record of making statements that reveal her blatant political bias. For instance, she responded to an inquiry into her office’s signature verification process by telling a local newspaper, “It's all political, because these liberal groups don't want citizens to exercise their right to put something on the ballot.”
“We filed this public records request because we had big concerns about the integrity of Clackamas County elections under Sherry Hall,” added Green. “After this morning’s news, our concerns have greatly increased.”
A few weeks ago, we wrote this:
[A] growing body of economic research... suggests that income inequality may be the root of America's economic woes... While the conservative right will almost certainly try to denounce these findings as "bias from the liberal elitite," the truth of the matter is that the reports aren't being crafted by one party or one organization.The reports come from an array of diverse sources, including IMF, internationally renowned economists, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and dozens more.
Here's the thing -- while we predicted that Republicans would dismiss the findings, we never dreamed that they would try to cover them up.
But according to an article in today's New York Times, that is precisely what happened.
Here's the scoop:
The Congressional Research Service is the agency "providing policy and legal analysis to committees and Members of both the House and Senate, regardless of party affiliation. As a legislative branch agency within the Library of Congress, CRS has been a valued and respected resource on Capitol Hill for nearly a century."
Now, you may have noticed that Republican and Democrat electeds have been disagreeing over how to solve our economic crisis. One idea is to cut tax rates for the wealthiest, and hope that they 'trickle down' their wealth. The other is to ask those who can afford it to pay a little more so we can preserve the programs and services that make America work.
In order to settle the issue, Congress called in the CRS, the shared nonpartisan research staff service, to study the impact of tax rates and economic growth.
The result of the CRS' investigation was a 23-page report published this September. The report showed, well, pretty much exactly what nearly all economic research has found -- that lowering tax rates for higher earners does not lead to economic growth. In simplified terms: trickle-down economics don't work.
Problem solved. Disagreement settled. Right? Right??
Congressional aides and outside economists said they were not aware of previous efforts to discredit a study from the research service.
“When their math doesn’t add up, Republicans claim that their vague version of economic growth will somehow magically make up the difference. And when that is refuted, they’re left with nothing more to lean on than charges of bias against nonpartisan experts,” said Representative Sander Levin of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee.
A Parallel Story in Oregon
Measure 84, on Oregon's November's ballot, would create a new tax break for our state's richest 2%. Proponents have argued it will create jobs, by encouraging 'job creators' to move into the state.
But when Oregon's nonpartisan Legislative Revenue Office released its fiscal impact report, it showed that the measure would actually cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars each budget cycle. As for those new job creators? The LRO found that the repeal of the estate tax would yield little to no increase in in-migration.
So, what did Measure 84 supporters say about the state's non partisan research service? "This is the bureaucracy engaging in rethink in order to protect their turf,' Mannix said."
Like on the national level, Republicans are choosing to stick their heads in the sand when science disagrees with them.
Think Progress took a look at ballot measures across the nation to see what sort of tax policies Americans are voting on this November.
As it turns out, almost all of them are bad ideas, designed to make taxes less equitable. And of all the bad ideas out there, Oregon has hit the top of the list.
Think Progress has identified Measure 84, Kevin Mannix's Estate Tax Break for millionaires, as one of the "three worst ideas voters will decide on."
Oregon voters will decide on Measure 84, which gradually repeals the estate tax and will cause a $120 million loss in revenue for the state every year. Though other parts of the law are unclear, it could potentially “open a new egregious loophole allowing individuals to avoid capital gains taxes on the sale of land and stock by simply selling property to family members.”
There is no evidence to suggest repealing the estate tax increases the number of wealthy tax payers who live in a state, a constant claim of proponents. In the end, repealing the estate tax would be an extremely regressive move and would only benefit the very wealthy.
Of course, it was no surprise to us that this measure would be counted among a list of "worst ideas," but the gravity of the measure's impact does seem particularly clear, as it tops the national round-up of Bad Ideas.