Brown, Pixley neck-and-neck in campaign funding race
The race for Columbia County sheriff has racked up the most spending and campaigning of any local action on this November's ballot. In that race, only two of the three candidates have logged campaign expenses.
Dave Brown has logged $14,503 in campaign donations, including nearly $8,000 in contributed materials or services, known as "in-kind" donations, and nearly $12,250 in expenditures.
His most notable contributor is Tyler Miller, a former Sheriff's Office reserve deputy, who has funded nearly $8,731 in advertising and marketing efforts toward Brown's campaign, state records show. Miller has also provided an additional $3,908 in in-kind contributions.
Miller's contributions have drawn scrutiny from some as the political contributor and business owner is currently involved in a defamation lawsuit against Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Steve Salle and Jeff Dickerson, who served as sheriff at the time the complaint was filed. Miller's complaint also named Steve Watson, former director of Columbia 911 Communications District, and an attorney from Bullard Law.
That litigation is still moving through federal court.
Miller and Brown said there is no connection between the litigation and Miller's decision to support Brown for sheriff.
"That's really bothersome to me," Miller said of notions that he's supporting Brown's campaign in hopes of gaining financially or out of retaliation against the Sheriff's Office.
"I grew up in this community," Miller said. "I'm a Virgo. I love to help people, it's in my blood. I have no ill will toward the Sheriff's Office. I'm supporting Brown because I believe he is part of a solution."
Miller's software company currently has a contract with CCSO for products and services, which has been in place and continually renewed for several years.
Brown said he never sought Miller's help, and notes that most of the donated materials he's received from Miller are eligible for reimbursement. Brown notes, "there are several current and former [law enforcement officers] supporting me."
"None of them, including Mr. Miller have asked me for anything in exchange for support," Brown stated. "I can't be bought."
Gibson, of Clatskanie, has not filed any campaign expenses with the state, saying he will stay under the $750 reporting threshold and finance his own campaign.
"I have chosen not to accept funds from outside sources so that there is no question or concern about being beholding (sic) to anyone, should I be elected Sheriff," Gibson stated via email to the Spotlight. "I know this is a huge risk and not the typical political method of running a campaign, especially when I'm like most in our County and don't have extra monies to throw at a campaign."
Gibson said he hasn't launched as large a presence in the county as his opponents, due in large part to volunteer work that has taken him out of state.
"My campaign was started extremely late in the season because I had been deployed with the American Red Cross helping with the hurricane Florence disaster," Gibson noted, adding he "believed that people's lives were at risk and that it was more important to help them than to stay home and work on political aspirations."
The candidate is in a similar situation on the eve of ballots going out to county residents, as he weighs whether to deploy to Florida to help with Hurricane Michael.
Brian Pixley, who currently works as a CCSO lieutenant, is also seeking the job of sheriff.
Pixley shows roughly $14,780 in contributions and in-kind donations, including a $5,000 out-of-state donation from a relative.
"That's my brother-in-law," he notes.
He's also received support from county employees outside the Sheriff's Office, $1,000 from St. Helens resident Melvin Moore and his company, M.E. Moore Construction, and small tokens of support from at least two current Sheriff's Office employees. Dickerson also donated $178 in leftover campaign funds to Pixley's campaign.
"There's no correlation there," Pixley notes of the purchase of a campaign T-shirt by an employee who was later selected for a position he applied for. "That's not a decision I made. That's a decision made by the command structure of the Sheriff's Office"
Pixley said he's been careful not to campaign while on duty, and notes that most of his support is the result of getting out and talking to people.
"My strategy was just to get out and meet as many people as I could and hope they agree with me and believe in my vision," Pixley noted. "Anytime I talk to someone, essentially, I say 'campaigns are expensive. If you want to donate anything to it, I'd be extremely grateful.'"
Total spent as of Oct. 10: $12,250
Notable contributors: Tyler Miller ($3,907 in in-kind and as a payer of personal expenditure for Brown for $8,731); David Miller ($1,640); LB Land, Inc. ($1,500); Robert Jackson ($1,500); ILWU- Longshore and Warehouse Union ($500)
Total spent as of Oct. 10:
Notable contributors: Melvin Moore ($500); M.E. Construction, Inc. ($500); Pacific Stainless ($500); Fraternal Order of Police Willamette Valley ($500);
Raymond Darlene F. Murphy Jr. ($500);