By Hillary Borrud – The Oregonian/OregonLive
Oregon’s web of political spending is becoming ever more complex ahead of the November election.
Gov. Kate Brown took the unusual step of forming a separate political action committee in early July called Team Oregon and seeded it with $100,000 from her re-election campaign.
Team Oregon’s stated goals are to re-elect Brown and “support Democratic majorities” in the Legislature. Yet so far, all of Team Oregon’s spending has been to pay the bills for Brown’s campaign.
Then in mid-July, the governor formed another political action committee called Defend Oregon’s Values that has paid for attack ads against her Republican rival, Knute Buehler but has yet to report receiving or spending any money. It has 30 days to file such reports.
So why did the governor form two PACs that don’t identify her by name?
Brown’s campaign did not respond to requests for an explanation Tuesday afternoon.
The proliferation of entities spending to influence the 2018 election dates back to at least January, when the business-backed political nonprofit Priority Oregon launched a negative ad campaign against Brown. Since then, a tax filing revealed Priority Oregon also exchanged $30,000 worth of research with the Republican Governor’s Association.
More recently, a political nonprofit called Oregon Foster Families First paid for a television ad that calls on viewers to “tell Gov. Brown to start putting our kids first.” The group’s director declined to identify who paid for the ads, and there are no public disclosures for such groups.
In Brown’s corner are the Democratic Party of Oregon and political action committees for Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice which have been attacking Buehler. Public employee unions are also supporting Brown, including through a political nonprofit they fund called Our Oregon.
Brown could also get help from a new political action committee called the Common Good Fund. It was formed to influence both initiative and candidate elections, after Brown met with executives from Nike and other major companies headquartered in Oregon in late June.
The companies wanted to keep a union-backed initiative that would have required them to disclose tax details off the ballot. The unions backed down, and Brown and the unions apparently lined up corporate allies going into the fall election.
Republicans in the Oregon House and Senate have also formed a political action committee called No Supermajorities PAC, which reported raising roughly $346,000 by mid-July, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. Democrats are just one vote shy in each legislative chamber of the three-fifths supermajority they need to raise taxes without Republican support. Republicans and Democrats in both chambers of the Legislature already have their own PACs, each dedicated to re-electing their existing members and growing their ranks.