Friday, October 06, 2006

Is Cameron (R-HD19) Lying About His 'Polling'?

Here's something I happened to stumble upon this morning, with the help of Blue Oregon. First of all, I'm amazed that there's something in Oregon politics that Kari Chisholm, Jeff Alworth and Jesse Cornett don't know, but indeed there is: who is the Hoffman Research Group?

Two candidates for the House, Sal Peralta and Mike Caudle, came up with the goods, as well as Patton Price for Jean Cowan:
[Dennis] Woods is...founder of The Hoffman Research Group, a public interest and commercial research organization headquartered in Portland, Oregon. Founded in 1984, the Hoffman Group has a long tradition of providing quality research to businesses and political campaigns. Principles of the Group offer clients a combined total of nearly 40 years experience in marketing, campaign management and survey research.

The Hoffman Group is a subsidiary of Gateway Communications, a Portland based communications and telemarketing firm. Its proven expertise in fund raising, voter identification, lobbying, and survey research have made Gateway a major player in recent political changes in the state of Oregon. Via the Hoffman Group and its other divisions, Gateway Communications serves a broad range of clientele.

Active in Oregon Politics since 1976, Mr. Woods has participated in over 300 political surveys, with primary focus on Oregon legislative campaigns. His most satisfying political accomplishment came in 1990 when he co-managed a 40-line voter identification phone bank supporting 17 key Republican House Races in Oregon. About 65% won, contributing to Republican control of the Oregon House for the first time in 20 years. This was the only legislative chamber in the nation to switch from Democrat to Republican that year.
OK, so Hoffman Group is Dennis Woods, local conservative hack, and they in turn are part of Gateway Communications. It turns out that Gateway has been fairly busy lately, as various accounts place the mailing of this "survey" {pdf} to House Districts 39, 10 and 27 (and perhaps 24, although Sal doesn't say explicitly). As the politicos indicate, it's less a poll, more of a way to ID individual voter preference (note the code in the bottom left of the return portion, which BlueO has blacked out).

It also seems to be that District 19 is receiving the mailer, based on a commenter's account of the Salem City Club debate last night:
Last night in a debate sponsored by Salem City Club and others, the challenger in Dist. 19 held up a flier (glossy, folded in half, maybe teal color and white or something) and said it had been sent to someone in the district who gave it to him. Asked 2 questions: which candidate will you vote for, and what are your issues? Remark was made "a little late to be asking about important issues, and the real way to find that out is to go door to door". Then the incumbent said "anyone can send out a mailing--that isn't from my campaign". [emph mine]
Regular readers by now have figured out that Carla and I are kill-the-cat curious, and since the latest contribution and expenditure reports came out recently, I figured I'd check out the pages for Kevin Cameron, the Republican incumbent for HD19. (I've linked you to the database; select 2006--General Election--State Representative--House District 19, and click on Cameron's report to see it for yourself).

You can guess where this is going, otherwise you wouldn't be reading the story--check out page 16, line 8: July 31st, Gateway Communications, $1,750 for "surveys and polling." Then go to page 17, line 4: August 10th, $301 for postage. On page 18 in line 4 is another postage entry, this time for $1,250. And on the last day before the filing deadline, line 10 of page 18 again: September 21, Gateway Communications, $3,000 for surveys and polling.

Could the Cameron campaign be receiving polling services from Gateway/Hoffman that are NOT the mailer several other districts are receiving? Absolutely, although what a mighty coincidence that would seem to be. It's a Friday afternoon and Cameron's race is not generally considered top tier (he's running against Brian Grisham, who I don't know much about but who has a snazzy logo and banner on his web page), so perhaps Cameron and campaign manager Rebecca Tweed are taking it easy today, but as yet two calls and messages to Cameron's office have gone unanswered. I'd also like to find a transcript, A/V copy or corroborating account of last night's debate, to get a clearer, verified picture of what Cameron may have said. Any help would be appreciated!