Corvallis faulted by state for electioneering!

The Oregon Secretary of State’s Office has issued a Notice of Proposed Civil Penalty against Jon Nelson, the Corvallis City Manager, and four other city employees for violating Oregon election law during last year’s referendum on the city’s telecommunication tax.

Oregon law prohibits public employees from promoting adoption or defeat of a measure while on the job during working hours, and forbids other persons from requiring public employees to support or oppose a measure.

According to the Secretary of State’s Office, the City Manager and other city employees illegally advocated in support of the telecommunications tax during work hours by sending biased newsletters to city residents, publishing biased materials on the city website, and publishing a biased explanatory statement on the city’s website after being told by the Secretary of State’s Office that it was against the law to publish the statement in the voters pamphlet. Although several city officials were found to have illegally advocated in support of the telecommunications tax, the Secretary of State found that City Manager, Jon Nelson was ultimately responsible for the illegal conduct.

Mr. Nelson and the other city employees have an opportunity to contest the civil penalties, but it is unknown at this time whether they will do so. Many organizations, such as the Taxpayers Foundation of Oregon have been vocal that city officials across the state have become increasingly aggressive in their efforts to support or oppose election matters affecting their city while on the job during work hours. While the penalties being assessed against the city officials in Corvallis are quite low, the Taxpayers Foundation of Oregon and other organizations hope the Secretary of State’s decision in Corvallis will deter city officials across the state from engaging in this type of activity in the future.

Here are some of the language faulted for not passing the impartiality rule when using taxpayer dollars to communicate election items with taxpayers.

“City Council is directing these funds to be used for critical and unavoidable fire department needs.”
(Nothing says impartiality like the word unavoidable)

“The need for fire apparatus is driven by the community’s desire to have an appropriate level of fire protection.”
(Telling the community what they want — Interestingly community rejected idea by 70%)

“Staff does not find this acceptable nor would our community”¦”
(Telling the community what they want part II)

“”¦the City Council had to take action to balance the budget.”
(Implying you can’t balance the budget without new taxes!)

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Posted by at 06:38 | Posted in Measure 37 | 11 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post

    Fire them!

  • baldeagle

    Karl Rove and his staff gave Power Point presentations to over 20 Federal departments on during working time. Pure politics. Not a peep about that here.



    • Steve Plunk

      Please. Can’t we keep things on topic and not drag everything back to Rove & Co.? It’s getting tiresome to say the least that left-leaners can’t seem to discuss even the weather without blaming Rove.

      The penalties seem less than adequate for the breach of public trust. I would like to see the legislature increase those penalties to a point of making them a real deterrent.

      • CRAWDUDE

        You don’t think a $150 (though it’s seldomly used) fine is enough to deter public employees from breaking the law by publicly supporting self servicing multi-million dollar tax increases during their work day is harsh enough? I’m shocked! lol!

        Maybe a mandatory 30 day suspension for each infraction might stop such abuses……in fact, WOULD! stop such abuses!

        • Capt_Anon

          it sounds like the City Manager is at fault and more likely than not directed subordinantes to do what they did. a 30-day suspension? not that’s not appropriate and its nor proportional. a 150 bucks is probably darn near or above a days pay for the average public worker.

          • CRAWDUDE

            Looks like it can be up to $425 per infraction, sounds fair enough as long as they are made to pay it.

    • MR. DUH

      That’s because the story’s about an election issue in CORVALLIS, OREGON, not Washington, D.C.

      You are hereby served a DUH notice.

  • David G

    I hope this inspires some of the Lane County activists to file a similar complaint with the Secretary of State’s office against Lane County officials who shamelessly used public funds to campaign for the county income tax.

    I don’t think the amount of the fine is much of a deterrent, but when the Secretary of State cites these officials for improper conduct, it becomes a public relations disaster for the officials and hopefully will deter such conduct in the future.


    The school districts do that up here too, some even send pro tax literature home with kids. Printed on our dime of course! Beaverton was the last to get caught a year or two ago.

    The usually say , oops, didn’t know about the law…………… kinda disengenious since they’ve been caught so many times.

    Fines up here generally aren’t levied so they fear no reprocussions.

  • Marvinlee

    I personally witnessed another small stunt by the city manager that did happen to be legal, though wrong, and knew of others for which no direct proof existed. I am not surprised at the present scandal, beyond the fact that it has been made public. It is time for Mr. Nelson to resign and go to a city that is more in tune with his attitude toward ethics and his personalized approach to law. I expect that he will either go unpunished, or will be so lightly punished that it is viewed as a vindication.

    I have never seen in any other state the pervasiveness of voter manipulation that exists in local government.

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