Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Sal Peralta Busts Nelson's Smear Job, But Good

[update below...]

The good news is, the news must be bad for Donna Nelson in HD 24 this fall--campaigns in control and liking the numbers they see don't pull stupid amateur crap like this. The bad news of course is the amateur crap itself, which takes a swing at Sal Peralta's strength and lies about it to neutralize it, even making it a weakness. It forces the target to stop and defend himself on grounds that only exist because the opponent has chosen to take a black-is-white view of the truth.

Stop and defend is what Peralta did last night--in a big way. During the day his campaign had begun to receive reports from supporters that a caller identifying themselves as from the "Oregon Farm Bureau" was saying that Peralta gets most of his money from trade unions based in Portland (the district is in Yamhill County). That of course is not only untrue, it's the complete opposite of Peralta's centerpiece pledge to limit his money to local interests. It's a textbook Swiftboating, because it takes something generally seen as a positive (being a veteran, not taking outside money) and turns it on its head, using simple untruths to sow doubt.

Not only was the Farm Bureau dumb enough to identify itself as the sponsor, they were unlucky enough to push-call Sal Peralta's house, and his wife:
My wife, Tanya, answered and took down the following transcript:

CALLER: This is Eric from the Oregon farm bureau asking you to elect Donna Nelson and wondered if you knew that his opponent gets almost all of his money from Portland Business and Trade Associations and big unions

TANYA: Where did you get your information from.. I’m intimately familiar with his source of funding and you couldn’t be more wrong.

CALLER: From the computer

TANYA: From the computer… where is your source?

CALLER: Supervisor?

TANYA: Who is that? Who is funding this call?

Hang up

The allegations made by these calls are blatantly false. Moreover, they are in direct contravention to a campaign pledge that I made not to accept contributions from businesses, trade associations, or labor unions with no ties to Yamhill County.

I have returned checks and money from all such unions that have made such contributions, directly returning checks, uncashed, from the Northwest Carpenter's Union, and am in the process of returning a check received today from the United Steel Worker's Union, even though both of these unions have locals in my district.
Ouch. But wait, it gets better. Turns out they're ALSO dumb enough to display their number on caller ID units, and Peralta has one. Tracing the number back to its owner, he identified Ken Hoffman, of Hoffman Research Group--a division of Gateway Communications. Hmmmm....where have we heard about Gateway before? And Peralta rightly points out in his press release that it was he who initially made the connection between Hoffman and Gateway at BlueOregon recently, which we picked up the baton on, and have discovered a rat's nest of Potemkin candidacies by the Republicans.

What the hell is it going to take for the traditional media to take a run with this story? The kernel has been served up on a platter for them: Chuck Adams and Company and Gateway Communications are reaping a whirlwind of cash by running the Republican legislature campaigns en masse, with consultants on loan from Adams as campaign managers, and push polling direct mail and "surveys" from Gateway that cull voter information under false pretenses for later microtargeting. Win or lose, they will make a killing. And in the meantime, as Peralta demonstrates they don't have the slightest compunction about doing whatever it takes to bring down a campaign.

Peralta knows exactly why the Nelson campaign/Farm Bureau are making shit up; they're pissed at him for pointing out Nelson's anti-worker stance on the minimum wage. She carried HB 2386 for the Farmers, which would have actually reduced the minimum for the first year of employment. She has admitted doing so in multiple candidate appearances, according to Peralta, and at a Farm Bureau event two weeks ago her manager directly asked Peralta whether he was being bankrolled by the "Portland unions."

That's where their paranoia is taking them. It never even occurs to Nelson's people that maybe the minimum wage law is a complete dumbass of an idea, and there's a cravenly obvious interest on the part of the Bureau to cut wages and incentivize frequent turnover at low skill positions. That Peralta would seek to point it out on the basis of fairness doesn't strike them as his motivation; he's gotta be backed by the unions! Such fine treatment from a woman who pledged to the Statesman Journal board that she would eschew negative campaigning.

Sal Peralta is facing a corrupted, co-opted proxy candidate being puppeteered by consultants and pollsters. They will do whatever is required to maintain power, and the campaign people win the money game no matter what. They will flat out lie about the opponent and seek to depress turnout. Is there any possible reason these numbskulls should not be booted from the halls of Salem before they do permanent damage to the state?

Update, 10/18 1020pm--
Sal Peralta has stopped by the comments and given an important update. The Farm Bureau claimed absolutely no knowledge that the claims in the phone script shown to them were untrue, and demanded that Hoffman pull any reference to Peralta or his campaign (which they did). They were the money people in this scenario, and I can believe they simply took on faith what Adams and Hoffman were peddling. They took the right steps to rectify the problem, appeared genuinely contrite to Peralta, and they deserve to have their name generally cleared in the matter.

Which leaves Hoffman (Gateway) and Adams, and another (anonymous) commenter claims to want to file an election violation against some combination of the group for false claims. Watch the reports, I guess. I have no idea who it is.