Ben Westlund’s Failures

The Democrat Party of Oregon seems to be turning a blind eye to the business failures of one of their leading politician — Ben Westlund. I only call him a “politician” because our friends over at NW Republican uncovered the gem of a picture posted to the right yesterday.

This month, Westlund’s hometown paper — The Bulletin — has provided us quite the critique of the Senator and his business record (specifically a lot of failure).

I am assuming much of their coverage came about because of the amateur attempt by the Democrat Party to slander Allen Alley’s business success. That faux pas elicited this editorial on 7/19 out of Westlund’s hometown newsource:

How does the Democratic Party suppose Alley’s business background compares with Democratic opponent Ben Westlund’s? We just thought we’d ask.

But the question was not a rhetorical one. The paper has actually looked into Westlund’s business background. Here is what they found:

The son of a wealthy real estate developer, Westlund, 59, dabbled in several small business enterprises in Central Oregon dating back to 1974 “” but he also took some chances that he admits were based more on fun than profits, including a stake in the money-losing Bend Bandits baseball team from 1995 to 1997. He tried to be a concert promoter in 1983.

Great! We have a dude running for State Treasurer who likes to base his investments on fun more than profit. Just what this state needs”¦ more government waste!

This also clears up something I had long figured — Westlund is a trust fund baby with no clear business success.

The Bulletin researched several of Westlund’s failures. What were they? Well, there was his ranch near Mitchell about which the hometown paper had this to say:

But Juniper Butte Ranch was a failure, in part because Westlund could not get cheap feed and the early 1980s economy was in the toilet, he said.

“Quite frankly, we were probably a little bit naive going into a business we shouldn’t have been going into,” said Guy Mount, who was Westlund’s partner. “At the end of the day it didn’t work, and we all lost money on it.”

So now we have a dude who is niave and likes to invest for fun over profit? But wait — it get better. The Bulletin suggests Westlund’s dabbling in construction might raise some legal, financial, and honesty questions:

At about that time, he dabbled in the construction business and developed what were supposed to be 28 vacation condos and a house at Bend’s Broken Top.

That endeavor yielded a transaction that raises questions. In late 1994, he financed the purchase of the Broken Top house for $353,000, via a primary mortgage, which means the buyer must physically occupy the house he or she buys. However, Westlund’s family was living in Tumalo and never moved.

Asked about that loan, Westlund said his wife wanted to move to Broken Top at some point. But he said he had no idea that it was a potentially fraudulent loan and that he went through Bank of America Private Bank to get all his loans and was sure they did nothing illegal.

He inked a land-sale contract three months later, in February 1995, and then sold the house outright for $425,000 in August 1995, according to Deschutes County records.

Oh yeah, then there is Westlund’s baseball team:

Also in 1995, Westlund joined investors to buy an independent, minor league baseball team, the Bend Bandits, for $50,000. The team lost about $75,000 a year, he said, but the partners were able to sell it for $250,000 three years later, so almost broke even.

So we have a trust-fund baby who likes to invest for fun over profit, his old business partners call him “naïve,” he might have taken out a fraudulent mortgage, AND HE WANTS TO BE OUR STATE TREASURER!