By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Whatchamacolumn: And that's just how political funds work

There are some misconceptions about reporter Nicole Montesano’s investigation into political finances flowing from the George family to candidates, measures, political action committees and political parties.

Some say, “Move on; there’s nothing happening here; it’s just regurgitated facts readily available online.” Balderdash. As someone semi-skilled in Internet research, databases and spreadsheets, I know the time commitment, savvy and exactitude it took for Montesano to compile that information. Few people could do it; of those who can, few try.

Some ask, “Why suggest there’s something nefarious about making political donations to causes and candidates who reflect your beliefs?” Please read the article again: It was a compilation of facts without legal or moral judgments; it described our campaign finance system by focusing on the most prominent local example of how that system works.

Some did not appreciate the story headline phrase, “Shell game.” I thought it was a clever double entendre about hazelnuts as a source of George family income, plus that age-old trick informally known as “now you see it, now you don’t.”

Again, that’s just how the system works for everyone who wants to obscure sources of funds going to specific campaign committees. 

And by the way, Republicans don’t have a corner on the market for murky political activities, as evidenced by the Democrat Party of Oregon hiding the identity of a $500,000 donor and the financial hijinks of now-resigned Secretary of State Shemia Fagan.

So let’s step back from one interesting story and consider suggestions for campaign finance reform:

PACs cannot contribute to other PACs. If you think that sounds easy, wait for the uproar if anyone in power actually pushed that idea.

If a donor to a PAC, candidate/measure committee or political party can control how those funds are spent, the donor’s identity must follow that money in campaign reports.

How about this: No campaign donations can be made or accepted after the first mailing of Oregon ballots; all political donations and expenditures must be reported to the state database no later than 10 days before the election.

Just for good measure: PACs cannot have names and/or mission statements intended to mislead people about intended PAC causes; all political committees must identify direct financial interests that campaign decision-makers have in entities receiving campaign expenditures.

Finally, to re-confirm, there’s nothing illegitimate about how the George family and friends handle their political contributions — that’s just how the system works.

News-Register Publisher Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.


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