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Shocked, shocked to find money in politics

Everyone knows that politics is about whose ox is being gored, as Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian and state Sen. Richard Devlin showed during the Democratic primary for Oregon Secretary of State’s race. They both complained mightily when their rival, state Rep. Val Hoyle, snared a $250,000 contribution from New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg, attacking her for accepting such a large out-of-state donation.

But neither of them complained when a Bloomberg-affiliated committee made $450,000 worth of donations that benefited Democrats in the 2014 elections. Two years ago, Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun-control group co-founded by Bloomberg, contributed $250,000 to Gov. John Kitzhaber’s re-election campaign and several state Senate Democratic campaign committees.

Nor did Avakian and Devlin complain when the NextGen Climate Action Committee started by out-of-state billionaire Tom Steyer gave $130,000 to the Oregon League of Conservation Voters PAC in 2014. It mostly helped Democratic candidates, too.

Kafoury vs. Staton saga continues

Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury is continuing to try to force Sheriff Dan Staton from office.

The Oregon Department of Justice investigation that Kafoury requested into Staton’s workplace behavior cleared him of any criminal wrongdoing. Undeterred, she has launched an administrative review into complaints by the deputies’ union that Staton played carrot-and-stick to influence the union, both threatening retaliation while seemingly offering its president a promotion.

The union notes that “the threshold for workplace misconduct is far lower than the bar for criminal misconduct.”

Kafoury — a critic of Staton’s — has vowed to investigate the complaint even though she can’t fire him because he is an independent elected official. But keeping the controversy alive could help persuade voters to make Staton’s position appointed, giving Kafoury greater control over his budget. It also could come in handy if the state police certification agency launches an investigation similar to the one that forced embattled Sheriff Bernie Giusto to resign in 2008.

Looking ahead to 2018

Although votes are still being tallied in the 2016 primary election, it’s not too early to start thinking about the next one. You can bet the incumbents whose seats will be up in 2018 are.

One is city Commissioner Nick Fish, who currently is reporting $10,000 in his campaign account. Although he is not running for re-election this year, Fish has reported raising about $20,000, so far. And he also has made a number of strategic donations. They include $1,500 to the White Bird dance troupe to sponsor a table at a fundraising event, $1,000 to support the Centennial High School bond measure on the primary ballot, and $1,000 to the committee that raises funds to elect Democrats to the Oregon House of Representatives.

Less active is Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who has not reported raising any money or making any strategic investments, so far, this year. He only has around $4,000 in the bank. That’s similar to City Auditor Mary Hull Cabellero, who has only raised around $50 and made no donations this year. She has about $5,000 on hand.

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