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UPDATE: Some incumbents returning contributions from Timber and Thorns owner and former official.

Disgraced Portland Timbers and Thorns owner Merritt Paulson and fired National Women's Soccer League team president of business Mike Golub have contributed at least $201,514 to Oregon politicians and causes over the years. Most of the recipients have been liberal Democrats.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Portland Timbers and Thorns owner Merritt Paulson.Current officeholders who have received contributions include Oregon U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, State Treasurer Tobias Read, State Rep. Andrea Valderrama, Metro President Lynn Peterson, Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury, Multnomah County Commissioner Lori Stegmann, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Portland commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty and Dan Ryan.

Previous officeholders include former Gov. John Kitzhaber, former Portland mayors Charlie Hales and Sam Adams, former Portland Commissioner Nick Fish, Steve Novick and Dan Saltzman and former Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle.

Contributions also have been made to pass the Metro and Portland affordable housing bond and the Portland street repair gas tax.

Paulson has contributed both personally and on behalf of the Portland Timbers and Peregrine Sports, which he also owns. Major incumbent beneficiaries have included: Wyden, who has received at least $10,600; Wheeler, who has received at least $8,000; and Brown, who has received at least $3,700.

Paulson also made $10,504 in in-kind contributions to former Gov. John Kitzhaher, Basic Rights Oregon, and a campaign to renew the Portland Children's Levy.

Paulson's largest contributions were made in 2016 to the campaign against Ballot Measure 97, which was an initiative that would have imposed a 2.5% gross receipts tax on C corporations with Oregon sales exceeding $25 million a year. It would have raised an additional $3 billion a year for the Oregon Legislature to spend. Peregrine Sports contributed $95,000 against the measure, which was defeated by 59% to 41%.

Golub has contributed separately. Major incumbent beneficiaries have included: Wheeler, who received a combined $2,250; Kafoury, who received a combined $1,500; Peterson, who received a combined $1,350; and Hardesty, who received $1,000.

U.S. Soccer has released a report based on an investigation by former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates documenting widespread mistreatment of NWSL soccer players, including by employees of the Portland Thorns. Among other things, the report details Paulson and president of soccer Gavin Wilkerson both advocating for former Thorns coach Paul Riley in his quest to find other head coaching duties after he was accused by multiple players of sexual misconduct and was fired by the club in 2015.

Paulson has relinquished all day-to-day duties involved with the NWSL team, and both Golub and Wilkerson have been fired.

The Portland Tribune has attempted to ask all incumbents with existing political action committees who have received political contributions from Paulson or Golub if they will return them. Only a few promptly responded.

Stegmann said she is donated an equal amount of her $500 contribution to organizations that support women and girls.

"In honor of girls and women everywhere, whether in sports, politics, business or any place that tries to hold us back and hold us down, I've contributed $250 to Girls Inc and $250 to Baby Blues Connection," Stegmann said.

Ryan said he has directed his campaign treasurer to return the $250 contribution.

Valderrama said she is considering what to do.

"I'm considering either giving the contributions back or donating them to an organization that advocates for survivors. I'm touching base with my campaign team to make a final determination," Valderrama said.

Hardesty wants to return the contribution from Golub but cannot legally do so. She received the $1,000 in 2018 before participating the city's Small Donor Elections program. It prohibits candidates from spending funds not directly related to their campaigns.

Blumenauer received a $2,160 contribution in 2014. It has long been spent. His office responded with a statement from the congressman that said, "The allegations revealed in the Yates investigation are damning and bring shame to Soccer City, USA. Even more devastating are the revelations that this type of abuse is pervasive, impacting every level of women's soccer. We must now have accountability at every level. The players and fans who support them deserve nothing less."

Democratic candidate for governor Tina Kotek told Pamplin Media Group that she does not believe she had received and would not accept any contributions from them.

"We all as leaders and particularly as employers need to set those standards high because that is the only way that things are going to change. … We want to have places where people can do their best work. And right now, I think they failed the test," Kotek said.

This is a developing story that will be updated.


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