Brown’s Fundraising Makes for Strange Bedfellows

Governor Kate Brown continues to raise money for her campaign fund even though she can’t run for reelection, and many of the donors are from the business community.

According to OPB, Brown has raised more than $120,000 in business associated giving since the beginning of the month, and the total could increase by the end of the month, as campaigns have 30 days to disclose contributions. Also according to OPB, some of the donors have business with the state.

Thomas Wheatley, a political consultant who handles the governor’s fundraising, refused to discuss any of the contributions with OPB. But he said in an email that Brown is raising the money to “communicate directly with the public, to support her priorities and to support candidates who share her values.”

What Brown May be Using the Funds For

The governor backs two measures the Legislature referred for the November 2020 ballot. One would raise healthcare dollars with an increased tobacco tax.

Ironically, the other is aimed at possibly limiting political contributions. It would amend the state constitution, which currently bars limits on political contributions, so that limits could be enacted at some point in the future..

Brown has repeatedly said that while she would like to get big money out of politics, but she won’t unilaterally stop taking big donations until the rules are changed.

Politics Make Odd Bedfellows

Brown and the state’s business interests have been at odds for some time now, Many businesses openly supported Knute Beuhler, her 2018 opponent, and agribusiness lobbied hard against the governor’s climate bill earlier this year.

But, many lobbyists point out that corporate and business groups have good cause to maintain warm relations with the governor. “The lobby has got to deal with her for a couple more sessions,” veteran business lobbyist Len Bergstein, told OPB.

Tillamook Cheese Accusations

Today, The Advocate published a story detailing allegations against the Tillamook County Creamery Association.  The Animal Legal Defense Fund has filed a lawsuit against the association claiming, among other things, that they have been deceiving the public about where their milk comes from, and how the livestock is treated.

They allege two thirds of Tillamook’s milk is supplied by Threemile Canyon Farms, who in turn maltreats the cows. One of Bergstein’s clients  is Threemile Canyon Farms, which gave the Brown’s political fund $5,000 this month.

Among Other Contributions  

PacifiCorp, PGE and Century Link each gave Brown $10,000, while NW Natural gave $5,000.

Centene Management Co. gave $10,000 – they own Trillium Community Health Plan, a major Medicaid contractor for the state. The Motor Vehicle Services Corp gave $10,000; they have been a contractor with the Oregon Department of Transportation. Orrick, Harrington & Sutcliffe donated $5,000, and they are a San Francisco law firm that has worked on bond sales for the state.

Bergstein commented to OPB, that the campaigns to recall Brown serves as a rallying cry for her fundraising efforts. Though, some analysts doubt enough signatures can be gathered to put the recall efforts on November’s ballot.

As of Wednesday, Brown had $920,000 in her campaign fund, according to the state’s database,

By Andy Thompson