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Thursday, May 3, 2007

Mercury hit with state elections probe

Was alt-alt reporter really embedded in Firefighters union?

You're a Portland voter weighing your May election mail-in ballot choices last week. A tabloid called "The Portland Mercury" dated Apr. 26 advertises itself on the cover: "THE ELECTION ISSUE. Let The Mercury election squad cast your ballot for you!" You're like, "Dude."

Then, this week Sec. of State Bill Bradbury is on KATU announcing an investigation into The Mercury and one of its reporters for election law violations. So now you're all, "WTF!"

According to an anonymous source, a complaint filed with the state Elections Division by a good Samaritan voter was accompanied by a digital video showing Scott Moore, the reporter, exchanging cash for a ballot on a street corner in the Pearl District last weekend.

The video clearly shows Moore observing while the voter darkens the "NO" circles next to each of the four City ballot measures, seals the ballot into the secrecy envelope, then seals and signs the outside envelope. At the end, cash - said to be $20 - plus a $.39 stamp changes hands and Moore pockets the ballot.

According to the complaint, the good Samaritan confronted Moore to call "foul" on the activity. Moore allegedly asked, "Do you know who I am?" and explained that he was working on a story embedded as a Portland Firefighters Union elections volunteer. "Don't blow my f***ing cover," he allegedly said.

Last November, an investigation was launched by the state into an election-night prank conducted by the Oregon AFL-CIO and the political election campaign organization comprised of the OEA and SEIU known as "Our Oregon."

Union volunteers had fashioned official-looking, but phony, ballot drop-boxes and stationed themselves on SE Morrison St., 1-2 blocks before Multnomah County Elections Division headquarters. Drivers stopped to drop off their ballots, thinking that it was an Elections Division operation. The union volunteers then delivered ballots to the County elections office. There were no charges filed due to insufficient evidence to indicate willful misconduct beyond a reasonable doubt.

In Oregon, where 100% of balloting is by-mail, casting another person's ballot or paying for votes constitutes a fraud felony crime punishable by a fine of up to $4.20.

State Elections Division chief John Lindback declined to answer questions about the complaint, saying only that the investigation was ongoing and that the Attorney General had been asked to research First Amendment implications of prosecuting an election law violation by a reporter who was pursuing a legitimate collective bargaining objective.

Moore and Rob Crocker, publisher of The Mercury, declined to comment for this article, referring all inquires to their law firm, Solitary, Poor, Nasty, Brutish, and Short.


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