By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Independents demand Demos pull attack ad

A spokesman for the Independent Party of Oregon is demanding the Democratic Party pull a series of mailers and television commercials targeting District 24 House candidate Ron Noble, who holds joint Republican and Independent nominations.

Rob Harris, spokesman for the party’s Washington County chapter, issued the demand after the Democrats opened a television campaign and then distributed a second mailer this week his party views as flagrantly and deliberating misleading.

The new mailer goes even further than the first in portraying a pair of unrelated incidents occurring 11 months apart at Linfield College, where the former McMinnville police chief is now serving as head of security, as a series of five closely spaced incidents suggesting disregard for the safety of female students.

“I think they should pull the ad immediately,” Harris said. “The Independent Party is asking them to pull the ad immediately, apologize to Ron Noble and run a fair election.”

The late flurry of expensive attack ads appears to reflect how badly the Democratic Party wants its candidate, Yamhill handyman Ken Moore, to win a House seat held by Republicans for the past 15 years.

District 24 encompasses all of McMinnville, Lafayetter, Dundee, Yamhill and Carlton. The seat is being vacated by Republican Jim Weidner.

The Democratic Party and its FuturePAC campaign arm have poured tens of thousands of dollars into the race in the last two weeks alone, according to campaign finance records.

FuturePAC has provided Moore with $39,647.50 of in-kind contributions since Oct. 13, and the party has added another $42,222, pushing the total past $80,000. The contributions include “preparation and production of advertising,” according to state campaign finance records.

Various unions and political action committees have provided Moore with a total of $20,000 in cash donations and $30,715 in in-kind donations as well, bringing his total donations reported so far in the Oct. 13-Oct. 27 period to $133,460.

During the same period, Noble reported taking in $45,400 from various donors, including several political action committees. He did not report any in-kind contributions during that period.

Harris attributed the eleventh hour Democratic spending to a growing belief that “Measure 97 is going to fail.”

Harris said the measure, which would tax corporate sales $6 billion per biennium, never had the level of support initially that it probably needed. He said it appears to be losing steam in the face of fierce opposition.

If it fails, he said, the Democratic Party’s only recourse for raising taxes instead, without GOP support, is to claim a 60 percent super-majority in the House. That requires 36 seats, and Democrats already hold 35.

Spending measures are required to originate in the House, and to earn 60 percent support there, making the 36th seat crucial for Democrats.

Harris said, “They’re going all in to win this race, and there doesn’t seem to be any bar that’s low enough for them. If you look at their piece, the source they cite as the factual basis for the attack on Chief Noble does not back up their assertion.”

He said every Oregonian should be following Yamhill County’s House 24 race, “because it could have a tremendous impact on the state, if it turns out (Moore) is elected.”

Harris said Noble won his party’s nomination on the basis of write-in votes cast in its party primary, as no registered Independent opted to run. The IPO does have a registered candidate in the House 23 race to the south — former GOP legislator Jim Thompson — but not in House 24.

Harris said it’s not clear to him whether Moore himself is behind the furious last-minute attack or the Democratic Party of Oregon and its FuturePAC arm. Either way, he said, “It’s below the level we should expect of civics.”

He said the Independent Party’s main objection is kind of behavior turns voters off from politics and political parties.

Moore refused requests from the News-Register for a phone or face-to-face interview, as he did when the first ad surfaced, even though it triggered a storm of criticism. Once again, he settled for releasing a written statement.

He said, “I’m focused today and through Election Day on meeting as many voters as possible and talking to them about the issues that matter most, like properly funding our public schools, making sure our small businesses have the support they need to thrive and ensuring government is working for everyone.”

Despite repeated requests, Moore declined to address broad criticism that the ads unfairly tar his opponent, and do so on the basis of his private employment to boot. But in the statement, he said:

“Elections are about contrasts and records. Ron Noble is running on his law enforcement record, and, among other things, is telling people that he is going to ‘protect Oregon from terrorist attacks’ as a state representative. People deserve to know what the record is.

“Ron dismissed the safety concerns of young women as ‘isolated incidents.’ As a father, I find that very concerning. When he was McMinnville police chief, violent crime increased nearly 17 percent. As a member of the community, I find that very concerning.”

The ads are based on two incidents.

In one occurring in the spring of 2015, an intoxicated male student stumbled into and back out of the unlocked rooms of four female students. They did not initially report the intrusion, but it came to light within days.

Eleven months later, an adult male grabbed a female student by the arm as she was walking near the edge of campus at night. When she broke free and struck him, he fled.

Working with the students victimized in the first incident, Campus Public Safety was able to identify the male perpetrator and ban him from student housing. College spokesman Scott Nelson said the case was “prosecuted under our student-conduct policy.”

He said the college offered the women the opportunity to move to different quarters, but they declined. He said the college notified students about the room-entering episodes and sent out reminders about safety habits and protocols.

In the second incident, in March 2016, a female student was walking along a public street when a man grabbed her arm. After warding him off, she called Campus Public Safety, which called in the McMinnville Police Department. The agencies searched the campus, issued an alert and escorted the woman home.

Nelson said the college also offered her counseling services, and “followed up to check on her welfare.” He said the college again reminded students about safety, and “asked students to report any suspicious behavior they noticed.”

The ads have focused on two statements by Noble, one in which he told the campus newspaper the room intrusion appeared to be an “isolated incident” and one in which he quoted McMinnville police calling the second incident isolated, as it fit no broader pattern. There have been no further incidents reported since then.

But the ads treat the events as a series of five closely spaced and related incidents and suggest Noble kept calling them isolated each time. The ads claim doing so demonstrates disregard for women’s safety in the campus setting where he works.

Democrats are facing barriers to achieving super-majority status in the House, including an infusion of cash by the Republican Leadership Steering Committee and Nike founder Phil Knight, three districts where Democratic incumbents have stepped down. In response, they are targeting winnable districts where Republicans have stepped down, including House 24.

The attack campaign targeting Noble appears to be a direct reflection, as such tactics have proven to work. However, they can backfire, and there is evidence that could be the case here.

On Saturday, the Facebook page of the Yamhill County Democrats reflected the party’s urgent desire to win in District 24 with a public post reading, “Ken Moore is our real shot at turning the HD 24 Blue. This is a very competitive race and it is very possible that this could go to a recount. We need your help to make sure that we see Ken Moore in the Legislature. We are now in the final 18 days of the campaign. The last 10 days will make or break this campaign.”

Toward that end, it said, Gov. Kate Brown and three state representatives would be joining local volunteers in calling and canvassing voters.

But the post drew a stinging response from Dr. Scott Schieber, vice chair of the McMinnville School Board. Schieber said he is un-affiliated and tends to vote Democratic, but won’t be doing so in this race.

“I can’t in good conscience vote for Ken Moore after that despicable voter mailing,” Schieber wrote in reference to the original mailer in the series. “It was a blatant misrepresentation of the facts; it was fear-mongering to the worst degree; it was an attack on character, not issues, pure and simple; and it needlessly disparaged the safety record of a good local college at a time when (it is) struggling with diminishing enrollment.

“One of the most important qualities of a leader is good judgment. If Ken had apologized for or walked back from the tone of this ad, I might have considered voting for him. But he stood by the ad, and in my opinion exercised horrible judgment by doing so. If he does not see the problems with stooping to this level for political gain, that is a real red flag for me.”

Moore received an unrelated blow Wednesday when the Chehalem Valley Chamber of Commerce announced it was withdrawing its endorsement following disclosure of his support for the Measure 97 tax on corporate sales.

“The CVCC Board of Directors based its candidate endorsements on an extensive interview with the Chamber’s Government Affairs Council last May,” it said in its release. “During that endorsement interview, Moore did not express support for Measure 97 (Formerly IP 28).

“The CVCC is opposed to Measure 97 and is working actively to defeat the measure with thousands of other business people around the state. Members of the board of directors expressed their concern that through support of Measure 97, Moore demonstrates a lack of understanding of the devastating effects the measure would have on families, farmers and small businesses who can least afford higher costs.”

At press time, the Moore For Oregon website still listed the CVCC in its list of endorsements.

The press release quoted President and CEO Sheryl Kelsh as saying, “If Moore can support Measure 97 this fall, then we must question his ability to effectively represent the interests of local business in the Legislature.”

 

Comments

Bill B

when you can't win fairly you resort to these sort of tactics. Notice that Mr. Noble is taking the high road.

Rumpelstilzchen

Very unfortunate. Ken should win this by getting people to vote for him, not against Ron. If I had not already voted, today's third mailing, trying to tie Ron Noble to the Trumpster, would have been the final straw. This kind of campaigning is bad enough if there is substance to the attack. The Democratic Party, however, seems to think the way to victory is to adopt the time-honored Republican approach of using obviously merit-free charges. Hasn't worked so well. Benghazi, anyone? Wonder what makes the Democrats think it will work for them.

GrizzlyWildcat

When I (Scott Schieber) wrote on the Democratic Party Facebook page, I chose that "platform" purposefully. I wanted the leadership to know of my distaste for their tactics.
I did not intend those statements for a wider audience.

I am not naive enough to think that my opinions would necessarily remained confined to only to those visiting that page, but I really did NOT intend to share them with everyone picking up Friday's paper.

The N-R technically did nothing wrong by pulling my statements and making them a part of an "above the fold" article on the front page, but I was never informed of their intent to do so. Had I been asked, I would have indicated I preferred to NOT be quoted in their story.

I posted those comments as a private citizen, however, and not as a school board member. The N-R prefacing my comments with my elected position could easily be interpreted as some sort of reflection of school district governance; nothing could be further from the truth. I'm sure the N-R will argue that as an elected official my opinions carry certain, what, weight (?), and are therefore germane to the story. But that rationale falls far short of what should be another journalistic imperative - to not create relationships where they don't exist. By linking my personal opinion to my public office, the N-R put the school district at risk for being the target of criticism or resentment for those who feel that way towards my own personal stance.

If you had to pull my personal comments out into your wider readership, you should have done so without naming my school board position. The two have nothing to do with each other. I'm not impressed with your editorial choices on this story, and hope that the district is not harmed because of those choices.

Jeb Bladine

Both issues raised by Scott Schieber are interesting topics for journalists.

There is much debate about quoting social media posts in news stories, and whether sources should always be contacted before publishing such quotes. Many consider quoting without contact as acceptable, depending on circumstances.

In this case, the social media site was available to the public and to an extended “sharing” audience; the writer began his post with the phrase, “I'm going to go public here;” the writer is a public figure (elected official); and the content related to an extremely high profile local news story. Under those circumstances, I wouldn't fault the newspaper's reporting/editor staff about publishing the quote.

Then there's the issue of identifying the writer as a McMinnville School Board member … also an interesting question. Granted, some might mistakenly think there's some connection between the school position and the quote, but I think most people understand that public figures have opinions outside their public positions.

One major factor in publishing the quote was that the writer is a public (elected) figure, so failure to identify that fact would have omitted a primary reason for including the quote in the first place. While I can understand the surprise when someone's post on a Facebook page shows up in the local newspaper, when elected officials take a public position on a high-profile topics, there is every likelihood that it will be reported along with identification of the person and his/her public office.

Still, it's not a black-and-white issue, so I can appreciate and respect Scott's concerns.

listen*up

when you start lying about an opponent to win a race you are a slimeball,it shows you are probably already a slimeball in hiding and you are showing your true colors,luckily I waited to vote until now! I will not vote for a slimeball,I am voting for Ron Noble!If you can't run a clean honest campaign DON'T RUN! we have enough corruption in Washington!

GrizzlyWildcat

Thanks Jeb, I appreciate hearing your perspective.

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