Thursday, February 08, 2007

Failure to report: Rogue Yamhill Co campaigns

Last Spring during the primaries there were competitive races all over Oregon. Mailer after mailer hit my mailbox in an attempt to woo my vote toward specific candidates and issues.

These mailers cost money. In most all cases it costs thousands of dollars every time a campaign or an advocate group creates and sends out a mailer. These expenditures are required to be reported to the Oregon Secretary of State (for statewide groups like PACs or campaigns for a statewide office) or at the local level (like County Commissioner, for example).

In Yamhill County, Kathy George ran a successful campaign for County Commissioner. Mrs. George's campaign sent out a mailer during the primary (all reported and legal as far as I can tell). But take a close look at the Bulk Mailing Permit #. It says Permit #1388, Portland, OR.

Mrs. George is the wife of State Senator Gary George and the mother of State Senator Larry George. Larry owns a business known as George Advertising which, in part, makes their money from generating mailers such as the one above that his mom sent out during the primary. In fact, I went to the Yamhill County Clerk's office yesterday and looked through the primary election C&E reports for Kathy George (which are unavailable online--but I did make copies of in-kinds and expenditures, if anyone is interested). All of her mailers were done by George Advertising, according to those reports.

I called the Portland Business Mail Entry Unit to inquire about that particular mail permit #. It isn't George Advertising--but a contractor that does mailings. That contractor was hired by George Advertising to do the actual mailing of the pieces.

Another candidate in Yamhill County who ran (unsuccessfully) for a different Commissioner seat is Charles Mitchell. Late in the primary season a mailer was sent out in support of Mitchell from Oregon Family Farm Association (OFFA). Note the bulk mailing permit: #1388.



But as I looked through OFFA's C&Es at the Secretary of State's office, there appears to be no reporting of an expenditure on their C&Es having anything to do with Charles Mitchell. Not on the post primary or for the amended post primary reports.

Based on my interviews with folks in Yamhill County who received this mailer, it went out to both Dems and Republicans. That means it was county wide--which has got to be upwards of 26,000 households. These mailers are big, full color and slick. This had to be an extremely expensive mailing.

There are expenditures listed for George Advertising on pages 4&6 of the first post primary C&E, but none delineated for Mitchell. And none of the other line items reference Mitchell at all, that I could see.

Yet no apparent reporting of it to the Secretary of State as required by law.

Nor did I find an in-kind donation from OFFA on Mitchell's C&Es filed with Yamhill County, which is also required.

In addition, the Yamhill County Republican Party sent out a mailer promoting both Kathy George and Charles Mitchell.

Same bulk mailing permit #1388. Looking through both Mitchell and George's C&Es, there is no reporting of an "in-kind donation" from the Yamhill County Republicans. And interestingly, that same group filed a Certificate of Limited Contributions and Expenditures with the SOS stating they planned to spend less than $2k in the primary.

Again, that mailer went out county wide. How can a group send out a huge, multi-colored mailing to 26,000 households for less than $2k? I don't think they can.

Neither does the Yamhill County Clerk, who notified the Secretary of States office in June about the YCGOP mailer and the lack of reporting.

The above letter is attached to Mitchell's C&Es at the Yamhill Co. Clerk's office, along with an attached copy of the YCGOP-Mitchell-George mailer for reference.

I have a call in to the SOS's office to find out if an investigation has been opened and if so, where it stands.

But that investigation would be for just the one mailer. It looks to me like there's a lot more than that for them to investigate.