Oregon’s liberal governor has reportedly received $2.6 million in campaign cash from over 500 vendors who reaped $4.4 billion in state payments.
“Every single instance where the 557 state vendors made a political donation and had their contract initiated, renewed, modified, or extended is a potential conflict of interest,” Adam Andrzejewski wrote for Forbes.
Disclosures last month showed that the $2.6 million represented the equivalent of 100 percent of Gov. Kate Brown’s cash on hand in her campaign committee.
“While national progressives decry corporate money as a pernicious influencer in politics, state records show that Governor Brown, a liberal luminary, has embraced the highly unethical practice of soliciting campaign cash from state contractors,” Andrzejewski wrote.
Brown, a Democrat, won re-election on Nov. 6, defeating Republican Knute Beuhler. Brown received 50 percent of the vote compared to 43.9 percent for Beuhler.
Andrzejewski, the CEO and Founder of OpenTheBooks.com, one of the largest private databases of government spending in the world, noted that “A number of major U.S. corporations have reaped Oregon state contracts or payments worth millions of dollars during Brown’s tenure. Meanwhile, these companies, key executives, or their affiliated employees funneled campaign cash to the governor.”
These donors include Nike Inc. ($134,365); Bloomberg LP ($250,000); AT&T ($10,000); PacificSource Health ($6,224); CH2M Hill ($4,700); Alaska Air ($3,500); Hewlett Packard ($2,000); and Pitney Bowes ($2,000).
Additionally, Andrzejewski noted, Microsoft received $21.4 million in state payments since 2012 and donated $11,250 to the governor’s campaign fund.
Planned Parenthood gave $42,075 directly or through affiliated entities to the governor. While Brown is a policy ally, Planned Parenthood reaped $10.1 million in state payments since 2012.
Andrzejewski noted that “Oregon is home to Native American groups who hold state contracts worth $36.7 million in lifetime value. These groups are significant political donors. They have donated $176,700 to Brown’s campaign fund since 2012.”
The Washington Times reported on a nondisclosure agreement between the Oregon Lottery and the Cow Creek Band, which donated $105,200 to Brown’s campaign fund. “Meanwhile, Brown wrote the federal government a letter opposing the Coquille tribe’s proposed casino. The Coquilles have donated 50 times less money than the Cow Creek Band to the governor’s re-election efforts. Coincidence?” Andrzejewski wrote.
“Right now, in Oregon, a large pot of taxpayer money is recycled from state vendors and contractors back into campaign coffers. The system functions as a legalized money-laundering scheme. At arm’s length, all of the transactions are legal – but are they ethical or serving the public’s interest?”
Andrzejewski noted that “Since 1940, at the federal level, individuals and entities negotiating or working under federal contracts have been prohibited from giving political cash to candidates, parties, or committees. In Oregon, however, this political patronage is perfectly legal (at least for now).”
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