The ad, scheduled for debut Sunday, attacks Gov. Kate Brown for her response to failures at the state's day care system.

(Image is Clickable Link) COURTESY PHOTO: DAYCARENIGHTMARE.ORG - A Priority Oregon website highlights issues in Oregon day care centers that were found by a secretary of state audit.A political nonprofit supporting business interests is set to blast off another attack ad on Gov. Kate Brown Sunday, this time focused on lambasting her administration for failing to adequately respond to flaws in the state's day care system.

Priority Oregon last month launched a website and ads attacking the Democratic governor for problems such as failing to protect children in foster care.

The upcoming ad, to be broadcast Feb. 11 on television and digital media, also comes along with a new website with information based on news articles and an internal audit about the day care system. It comes at a time when Brown is campaigning for re-election.

JAIME VALDEZ/PORTLAND TRIBUNE - Gov. Kate Brown gives the state-of-the-state address Feb. 5 at the Oregon State Capitol in Salem."State regulators are overlooking children being hurt, abused or neglected at day cares. Gov. Brown and her administration put the safety of Oregon kids on the back burner," said Erica Hetfeld, Priority Oregon's executive director. "It's time for Gov. Brown to take serious action to address this crisis before more of our kids die or leave dangerous day cares with broken bones."

The ad highlights newspaper reports about children who were sickened from an insecticide at a Coos Bay day care centers, children with broken bones at a provider in Keizer and a marijuana dispensary owner who also operated a day care center.

"Instead of making changes, Gov. Brown hired a Washington, D.C., PR firm to do damage control," according to the ad, referring to an article by The Oregonian.

Casting aspersions

Priority Oregon dates back to 2016 when it helped successfully campaign against an Oregon tax on corporate sales. The group has yet to disclose the membership on its board of directors and who is funding its political activities.

Hetfeld said the group plans to file required disclosures with the IRS later this year.

Jim Moore, a political science professor and director of the Tom McCall Center for Political Innovation, said Priority Oregon's attack on Brown resembles campaign tactics of Republican statewide candidates who have sought to unseat Democratic incumbents.

In 2014, Republican gubernatorial nominee Dennis Richardson attacked incumbent John Kitzhaber over the failure of Cover Oregon, the state's healthcare marketplace website.

"This is a continuation of that argument," Moore said of the Priority Oregon ad. "It is the same message that Democratic leadership has gone on for too long and led to a government that is not functioning as it ought to, at its best, and at its worst, is corrupt."

Thomas Wheatley, Brown's campaign adviser, described Priority Oregon's strategy as "just one negative and cynical attack after another, without any actual proposals for our state.

"It's a tired playbook that hasn't worked in the past and isn't working now."

He said the group has ignored the good things that have happened since Brown took office.

"High school graduation rates are on the rise," he said. "An overwhelming majority of Oregonians just voted to protect the health care for hundreds of thousands of our neighbors. And we're working to make sure the economic boom is felt across the state."

Paris Achen
Portland Tribune Capital Bureau
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