Plus, Scott Lively resurfaces in another state and campaign spending ramps up for Clean Energy Fund

PORTLAND TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - Brad AvakianThe confrontation between Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian and leaders of the Oregon Legislature has turned into one of the most compelling political dramas in the state.

Avakian is pressing an investigation into a complaint he personally filed that the leaders allowed sexual harassment to flourish at the Legislature. Legislative leaders have responded through a retained private attorney that BOLI does not have the legal authority to investigate or sanction the Legislature over such an issue.

All of the parties are Democrats. Although the office of labor commissioner is nonpartisan, Avakian was a Democratic legislator before being appointed to fill a vacancy in it, ran for election and reelection on traditional Democratic Party issues, and ran unsuccessfully for secretary of state — another nonpartisan office — on Democratic issues again.

Lively resurfaces in another state

One of the most polarizing figures in Oregon politics ran for governor of Massachusetts, and hardly anyone here seemed to notice.

Scott Lively was widely expected to be trounced by incumbent Charlie Baker in the Republican primary election on Tuesday, after this issue went to press. Lively was communications director of the far-right Oregon Citizens Alliance. Its only successful ballot measure was declared unconstitutional by the Oregon Supreme Court. He was later accused of promoting anti-gay legislation in Russia and Uganda, then founded the Abiding Truth Ministries, which has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Despite that, nearly 28 percent of delegates to the Massachusetts state GOP convention backed Lively over Baker in February.

Spending ramps up for Clean Energy Fund

The campaign for city Measure 26-201 is heating up as big businesses drop money to defeat the proposal. The policy calls for a 1 percent tax on large corporations' sales to create a fund for clean energy jobs.

The no-vote campaign organized through the Keep Portland Affordable PAC is throwing thousands into researching the measure's effects and voter sentiment. So far, the group has generated $158,000 worth of wonky work. ECONorthwest, economics consultants, have received about $30,000 of that work and DHM Research pollsters have gotten $15,000.

By the end of August there were only two contributors to the no campaign, but that number is expected to grow. Lithia Motors has given $20,000, and $40,000 is from Defeat the Tax on Oregon Sales, a PAC with money to burn after the 2016 defeat of Measure 97. That measure would also have taxed big businesses based on sales.

The Yes for Portland Clean Energy Fund PAC had not reported any contributions or expenditures at press time, but the petition committee still had a balance of $42,245. That committee raised a total of $233,000 through small cash contributions and large gifts from the Sierra Club, Verde and the Portland Just Energy Transition PAC.

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