Kitzhaber Scandal: $5,000 Independent Party pay-out

Oregon Republican Party Calls On Secretary of State And Attorney General To Initiate Investigation Into Financial Connections Between Kitzhaber Campaign And Independent Party Of Oregon
By Oregon Republican Party,

Portland, Ore. – Oregon Republican Party Chairman Bob Tiernan today called on Oregon’s Secretary of State and Attorney General to conduct an investigation into potential improprieties concerning financial activities between the campaign of Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Kitzhaber and Independent Party of Oregon officials. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant, which is why we are asking for an investigation to determine whether the financial activities between Kitzhaber’s campaign and Independent Party of Oregon were an attempt to curry favor for their support. A review of news accounts and financial transactions between officials from both camps appear to suggest coordination between the two as a result of these contributions,” said Tiernan.

“According to the Secretary of State, the Independent Party has gotten dangerously close to engaging in pay-to-play politics. This election is too important to allow these questionable activities to go unaddressed – especially in light of recent allegations involving the Independent Party. It is imperative that the Secretary of State and Attorney General bring transparency and accountability to this situation to provide resolution to all Oregonians,” Tiernan continued.A copy of the letter has been included below (an identical letter was also sent to John Kroger, Attorney General of Oregon):

June 9th, 2010
Kate Brown
Oregon Secretary of State
136 State Capitol
Salem, OR 97301

Dear Secretary Brown,

The following letter is a request for you to use the full capacity of the office of Secretary of State to investigate the potential improprieties concerning the financial activity and coordination between the campaign of Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Kitzhaber and Independent Party of Oregon officials.

These activities raise very troubling questions, and we feel it is in the interest of all Oregonians to investigate this matter fully, to assure that all parties are acting accordingly to the spirit and letter of Oregon election law.

According to Orestar, Brett Wilcox, Finance Chairman for John Kitzhaber’s gubernatorial campaign, made a contribution of $5,000 to the Independent Party of Oregon on Jan 28, 2010. Following this contribution, Sal Peralta, Secretary of the Independent Party of Oregon, made a personal withdrawal in the amount of $2,500 from the Independent Party on February 2, 2010 for purposes unknown according to Orestar.

Following this transaction, Sal Peralta began to publicly attack Bill Bradbury, Kitzhaber’s opponent during primary election via the internet. The process was repeated against Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Dudley. Peralta’s posts on Blue Oregon are as follows:

March 10, 2010, Blue Oregon Comment Post,
March 29, 2010, Blue Oregon Comment Post,
April 11, 2010, Blue Oregon Comment Post,

April 28, 2010, Blue Oregon Comment Post,
May 5, 2010, Blue Oregon Comment Post,
May 21, 2010, Blue Oregon Comment Post,

To fully understand the matter at hand, it is important to understand the relationship between Kitzhaber and Wilcox. In 1994, Wilcox was the third largest donor to Kitzhaber’s gubernatorial campaign. Following the election, Kitzhaber then appointed Wilcox as chair of the Oregon Economic Development Commission. As Kitzhaber’s current campaign finance chair, one could arguably make the assumption that his political donations are done in the interest and benefit of the campaign.

“[Wilcox’s] success won him a seat on the board of Reed College, as well as an appointment from Gov. John Kitzhaber to head the Oregon Economic Development Commission…In 1994, for example, Wilcox was the third-biggest contributor to Gov. John Kitzhaber, following only Nike CEO Phil Knight and scrap-metal king Warren Rosenfeld.”
(Nick Budnick, “The Juice Junkie,” Willamette Week, 5/30/2001)

Moreover, Wilcox has made $20,000 in contributions to Kitzhaber’s gubernatorial campaign:

• September 9, 2009 – $10,000 donation

• March 31, 2010 – $10,000 donation

The aforementioned financial transactions, coupled with Peralta’s attacks on Bradbury and Dudley raise the following questions:

• According to ORESTAR, Wilcox is the single largest donor to the Independent Party this cycle. Was his $5,000 contribution an attempt to curry favor with the organization on behalf of Kitzhaber’s campaign?

• Was the $2,500 check written to Peralta from the Independent Party directly related to Wilcox’s contribution, and if so, was it to encourage him to publicly attack the Bradbury and Dudley campaign?

• Was Wilcox’s $5,000 contribution given to help secure the nomination of the Independent Party for John Kitzhaber?

• Given that Wilcox is a major supporter of Kitzhaber and the Democratic Party, what is the purpose of making such a substantial contribution to the Independent Party?

Clearly these questions require further investigation. Oregonians deserve a fair election system which is both transparent and based on merit, not “pay-for-play” influence peddling.

Thank you for your consideration of this very serious matter.


Bob Tiernan
Oregon Republican Party

  • Dan Meek

    I say to my friends at Oregon Catalyst: This one is way off base.

    The Republican Party complains that the Independent Party (IP) got a $5,000 contribution from Brett Wilcox, who over the past couple of years has contributed over $120,000 to a variety of candidates and measures, including Republicans. Brett is a supporter of John Kitzhaber. The IP secretary, Sal Peralta, then criticized Bill Bradbury as he ran for the Democratic nomination for Governor.

    The complaint is baseless. Brett Wilcox made a contribution in January 2010, which we used to conduct a survey of our membership to find out what issues they consider the most important.

    It is not difficult to find dozens of criticisms of Bill Bradbury by leaders of the Independent Party, particularly by me, stretching back for at least 6 years. Just google “Bill Bradbury” “Dan Meek”. As Secretary of State, Bradbury in 2007 refused to print voter registration cards with “Independent Party” as a choice, until we threatened to sue and convinced Attorney General Hardy Myers to override Bradbury’s decision. Despite enactment of Measure 47 (one of the most strict campaign finance reform laws in America) by Oregon voters in 2006, Secretary Bradbury refused to enforce the law for the entire remainder of his term, even though the measure expressly assigned enforcement duties to the Secretary of State. He went to extraordinary lengths to deny places on the ballot to candidates seeking to qualify by collecting signatures of registered voters, as detailed by me in several publications, including and Theresa Amato’s new book, Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny. Bill Bradbury earned the criticism directed his way. I think the readers of Oregon Catalyst would agree with that.

    The $5,000 contribution equals less than 2/10 of 1% of the money donated to Republican Party committees in each of the past 2 election cycles.

    Moreover, the IP showed no favoritism to the candidate Brett Wilcox supposedly favored, Kitzhaber. It accepted the candidacies of Jerry Wilson and Richard Esterman, who will appear on the IP’s primary ballot for Governor.

    The Indendent Party specifically notified Chris Dudley’s campaign manager in early March 2010 of the Independent Party nomination process and the need to apply to take part in that process. We published several other notices since then. Despite the notices and the media attention the past few weeks, Chris Dudley’s campaign never sought to apply for nomination. The IP has rejected the attempts of candidates to apply after the June 2 deadline, including those by Democrats who are incumbent Oregon legislators (Martha Schrader) or members of Congress (David Wu).

  • Jim

    This is ludicrous. Even for Catalyst.

    Even if it were some big deal, what does it matter? Dudley says he doesn’t want the Independent nomination anyway.

    Bob Tiernan is really a lunatic.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    We have a charge, with some pretty loose associations used to draw a conclusion.

    That’s nothing new in elections. Charges and claims of malfeasance are made all the time. It is unfortunate, because they only serve to inure the public to strong charges with substantial evidence when they are made.

    Is this charge baseless or does it have merit?

    Well, apparently it has merit, although my only reason to draw such a strong conclusion is one line in the text that I take at face value, but should have substantiation:

    “According to the Secretary of State, the Independent Party has gotten dangerously close to engaging in pay-to-play politics.”

    On what basis is this claim made that the Secretary of State has concluded the independent party is engaging in pay to play? Why do we not have a copy of such communication involved from the SOS to make this statement? Why do we not have in addition to the context in which that statement was made, the evidence upon which the SOS drew her conclusion?

    There are links to everything else under the sun here, why no links to substantiation of the SOS claims and the evidence on which they were based?

    Absent such manifestations, this is a very thin case and it is ill considered to build a charge of such a strong nature on evidence with such weak support.

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