Saturday, April 15, 2006

Westlund/Atkinson fined for late campaign finance report filings

Medford Mail Tribune

Atkinson, Westlund fined for filing late reports
The Associated Press

SALEM — A pair of gubernatorial candidates will be fined for not submitting their campaign-finance reports on time, state officials said.

Republican Jason Atkinson’s report was filed Monday at 6:39 p.m., well after the 5 p.m. deadline. Independent candidate Ben Westlund came closer to getting his report in on time, but failed by five minutes, said Jennifer Hertel, a compliance specialist for the state Elections Division.

The candidates will be fined 1 percent of the money they have raised. For Atkinson, a state senator from Central Point, that’s $2,695. Westlund, a state senator from the Bend area, will be fined $2,289.

I don't know that this is that big of a deal. Late filings aren't especially uncommon. But its good to know that the Elections Division is paying attention.

However, a different section of this news report caught my eye:

Atkinson’s biggest donor was James Leininger, a San Antonio hospital-bed manufacturer who contributed $50,000. Leininger, an influential social conservative who has spent millions shaping Texas politics, is known for backing causes such as school vouchers.

Other top Atkinson donors were Rodney Schaeffer of Jacksonville, $25,000; SJ Strategic Investment of Bristol, Tenn., $15,000; and Nancy Smith, a Merlin retiree, $10,100.

I'd never heard of James Leininger, so I Googled him. This guy looks like the Svengali of the Texas hardcore conservative Christian political set. He's known as sugar daddy of the Texas religious far right. He's given a shitload of cash to market hard right Christian conservatism to Texans in an effort to push that state to the right (successfully, I'd say).

Why is this uber zealot from Texas giving $50k to Jason Atkinson? What sort of relationship does Atkinson have with this guy to get that kind of scratch for his campaign? And why would a Texan be trying to influence local politics in Oregon?

Then there's SJ Strategic Investments out of Bristol, Tennessee. The CEO of SJ Strategic Investments is John Gregory. Gregory is also the former CEO of King Pharmaceuticals. Nepotistically, John's daughter Susan is SJ's Chief Investment Officer and Jim Gregory is in line for Chief Operating Officer, after having been a big shot at the other family business: King Pharmaceuticals.

The Gregory family gives copious amounts of cash to the national Republican Party, the Republican Party of Tennessee and various GOP candidates in Tennesee. John and Joan Gregory have given hundreds of thousands of dollars, in fact.

Why do the Gregorys want to influence local Oregon politics via Jason Atkinson?