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False Fronts

Pseudo-Grassroots Groups Fund Campaigns



The last campaign finance reports to come before the election were filed with the secretary of state's office last Thursday. In the stacks and stacks of papers and names of contributors, one major trend has emerged—the Orwellian tradition of using hysterically euphemistic committee names is fully in force.

Take, for instance, the Oregon Family Farm Association PAC, which has put nearly half a million dollars in so far (through in-kind advertising) for ballot Measure 40, which would require the districting of appellate and Supreme Court justices. In this cycle, the "Family" Farm Association has received $51,250 from the Seneca Sawmill Company, $60,250 from lumber giants Swanson Group, $51,250 from A-DEC Dental Equipment, $25,425 from Freres Lumber, and $200,000 from Nevada-based campaign financier Loren Parks. Even a generous look at their books shows no more than about $500 from actual small farming operations in Oregon.

And in the fight over Measure 43—parental notification for minors seeking an abortion—the primary campaign committee is showing itself to be a front for Oregon Right to Life. Rather than being a grassroots effort, the Keep Our Daughters Safe Committee has received most of its money from the anti-abortion organization—of the campaign's $785,600 war chest, $67,480 has come directly from Oregon Right to Life's non-profit arm, and a whopping $640,693 has come from the group's political action committee. In fact, of the $27,000 raised by the campaign in just the past week, $25,000 came from Oregon Right to Life. On the No on 43 side, much of the campaign's money has also come from state and national groups (pro-choicers like NARAL and Planned Parenthood), but the list of individual small contributions could stop a bullet.

But perhaps the most uproariously dishonest name is "Oregonians Against Insurance Rate Increases," which is opposing Measure 42, the ban on using credit scores to determine insurance rates. Here's how "Oregonian" the campaign is: Of the more than $1 million raised in the last reporting period (the campaign has raised almost $5 million total), exactly $14,654.05 came from Oregon. The rest—over 98 percent—has come entirely from out-of-state insurance giants.


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