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Monday, January 29, 2007

Case closed

Much Ado About Nothing
THE EDITORS, Jan. 29

So The Oregonian pumped at least $75 million into the "No" side to defeat ballot measures last year, intimately coordinating with the government-union group, Our Oregon.

So the vast, right-wing conspiracy has now launched a complaint against Our Oregon because they didn't technically register as a political committee.

Well, The Oregonian didn't either, and we do not see what the fuss is all about. A daily newspaper in Salem reported Jan. 26 that Attorney General Hardly Matters is investigating "a possible criminal violation." Last time we checked, folks are innocent until proven guilty and any news organization that glibly spouts such irresponsible language does a disservice to both the First Amendment and the advertiser community.

Here are the facts.

The Oregonian prosecuted an aggressive negative 2006 political campaign in close coordination with Our Oregon in order to defeat ballot measures that, it was said, would have hurt Oregon by imposing corrosive, competitive market forces upon the well-established collectivist rules that govern Oregon public policy-making.

The U.S. Supreme Court says that the state and federal laws requiring political campaign spending disclosure do not apply. The Oregonian's share of Our Oregon's 2006 campaign was estimated by political experts to have been worth at least $75 million. Anyhow - having been fully blogged, The Oregonian's part has never been in question, even if Our Oregon's conduct now faces scrutiny.

Newhouse companies like The Oregonian have joint ventures of an infinite variety. In all deals, The Oregonian doesn't obey the rules that do not apply and expects no more and no less from its partners. It's only reasonable to assume everyone knows the rules that apply to them.

Here's what is known about the group called Our Oregon.

Its board is comprised of Oregon Education Association and Service Employees International Union leaders.

Our Oregon produced a ballot-measure guide, conducted research and used its Web site and e-mail to defeat ballot measures that sought to limit state spending, cut taxes, re-institute term limits and reform campaign-finance laws.

Our Oregon spent, directed and redirected millions of dollars against ballot measures yet never registered as a political action committee or filed reports itemizing its spending and donations, a Class C felony.

Even though The Oregonian is secretly owned by the camera-shy Newhouse billionaire media mogul brothers from New York who carry an 80-year family history full of ties to the mob, unions and taxmen - the coordinated campaigns continually criticized the 2006 measures as bankrolled from out-of-state.

How childish, now, for Oregon's conservative right-wingers to accuse the government unions of shady campaign finance disclosure. It is so much sore-loserism. Worse, they abuse precious public resources by forcing Justice Department investigators to deal with trumped-up, ridiculous charges, while real victims of labor and environmental injustice in our communities fight a losing battle for due process in our grossly underfunded criminal justice system owing to sixteen years of GOP neglect.

Nevertheless, it appears important to clear the air. It should allow comfort to Oregonians' hearts and minds alike when they become privy to what we have known all along: Last year, The Oregonian's longtime publisher, Fred A. Stickel, received assurances from Our Oregon spokeswoman Patty Wentz that the group carefully follows the laws.

Janice Thompson, the executive director of the Food in Politics Research Action Group, says "It's a loophole in state law and a question of federal jurisdiction over political nonprofits. But Our Oregon appears to be doing just what The Oregonian is doing." Stickel allows, "I think there's a minor problem here. I think the system has got to be updated."

We call 'em as we see 'em, and this one is much ado about nothing. Enough said. Case closed.

2 comments:

dreamban said...
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kinjie2004 said...
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