Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Finance Complaint Filed Against Nelson (R-HD24)

Randy Stapilus over at Ridenbaugh Press seems to have been the first one to catch this story from McMinnville today, about a complaint filed against the re-elected Rep. Donna Nelson, in Oregon's 24th House District. Like the News Register, I had heard from people inside the Peralta camp that they suspected her of dumping cash late in violation of her pledge to limit contributions to $2,000. But they were not ready to file the complaint yet, so like the Reg we opted not to say anything about it.

Well, the time has come and Peralta supporter and Democratic activist Debbie Runciman has filed the complaint with the Secretary of State. ">The Reg does a pretty good job of explaining the minutiae of the alleged violations, but the gist is that they are accusing her of taking contributions and then failing to report them until the very end of the election, basically falsifying the October processing dates on her official statements to make them seem as if they'd come then instead of during the summer.

Nelson's plea is that PAC and lobbyist mail is "nonessential" and gets opened after constituent mail, which according to her means it gets put into a plastic tub and nearly forgotten. This is the "I'm just a gentlelady who's doing my best" Nelson, who offers up the rank incompetence excuse hoping to be forgiven for being flighty rather than criminal. And I did say criminal, because while it's unclear whether charges might result, the office comfirms they are applicable and certainly possible. But in any case, that she says in her own defense that she never imagined anyone would even challenge her, much less be competitive, is to paint a picture of someone rather infected with their own status and sense of entitlement, and of these people we are warned to dismiss feats of confidence as gaffes of incompetence.

I'm not aware of anyone who knows more about what's really in the 2006 C&E's than Sal Peralta, so I have no doubt that they know what they found and they have documentation of a discrepancy (The Reg's own investigation produced several of them). So it's left to Nelson to come up with a better excuse than "whoops, behind on my mail."

As Randy says, much more likely to come. If there really is criminal wrongdoing, will she keep her seat? She's already in fragile health as of late, and returning to Salem in the minority and with campaign charges dogging you, may be too much. I don't wish it on her by health of course, but if she manipulated those reports like that she should go anyway. And that would be a Democratic pickup in an open election, not the least reason being that Peralta would almost certainly run.