Requesting Investigation into $11M of Disclosure Violations
Complaint to AG Rosenblum and SoS Richardson mirrors lawsuit filed by Washington AG against SEIU’s Washington State Council for failure to report individual member contributions
Wilsonville, OR – Today, Bill Currier, Chairman of the Oregon Republican Party, filed a formal complaint with Oregon’s Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, urging both leaders for an investigation into the campaign finance practices of the Oregon Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Oregon Council and its local 503 and 49 affiliates, involving more than $11 million in unreported individual union member contributions:
The complaint mirrors a recent decision by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson to pursue action against Washington’s SEIU State Council for failure to properly report and disclose the campaign finance activity of its membership. Earlier this month, AG Ferguson’s office filed suit in Thurston County alleging that the SEIU Washington State Council, whose organization’s main source of income is member dues, should have registered a political action committee for any political contributions made on behalf of its members.
Washington’s suit identified nearly $5 million in pass through contributions via SEIU’s state council which AG Ferguson’s office believes should have been properly recorded in a political action committee. The Oregon GOP complaint points out that even though Oregon has as similar law, since 2006, SEIU’s Oregon affiliate councils have made over $11 million in political contributions with member dues, but have failed to register and report the political spending of its members inside of a members’ political action committee using ORESTAR, the state’s campaign finance reporting system.
“Our complaint exposes that Oregon’s public employee unions have been playing fast and loose with campaign finance laws by not reporting member contributions being spent directly on political activity,” stated Currier. “Public records appear to show $11 million in local funds being pushed into candidate or ballot measure PACs, plus millions more being routed from out of state SEIU affiliates into Oregon. It’s time to take the step the Washington Attorney General made and investigate the legality of how SEIU is spending member money on political campaigns.”
The complaint contrasts SEIU’s practices with other groups which follow the law when collecting campaign contributions on behalf of members by properly reporting aggregated membership money for politics in forward-facing political action committees within the public’s view.
“If you’re the Realtors, or an insurance agent PAC, member contributions are recorded in a political action committee,” Currier said. “SEIU should be held to the same standard as other groups that engage in politics.”
Since other public unions besides SEIU operate in this fashion, a proactive determination by Oregon’s Attorney General and Secretary of State would help ensure better compliance and enhanced public scrutiny of member-based contributions from all organizations.
“Before the next election cycle begins, it is seems imperative that AG Rosenblum and Secretary Richardson to make a timely determination if this type of political fundraising and contribution-making violates Oregon’s campaign finance law,” add Currier. “Our election system demands that everyone operate inside the law, and on a level playing field. If the Washington Attorney General’s office believes the issue is worth pursuing, and SEIU operates the same way in Oregon as they do in Washington under similar laws, then we think Oregonians deserve this same kind of representation from our statewide elected officials in this matter.”
The complaint was sent electronically today to both Rosenblum and Richardson, and that the Oregon Republican Party would anticipate a timely response from both offices.
For more information on specific SEIU transactions the Oregon Republican Party believes should be reported as political action committee contributions, please see the attached line-itemed spreadsheet.