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Follow the Money

Local PACs, businesses, and individuals show candidate support with cash



As the saying goes, "Money talks." But what do the campaign contributions from local political action committees (PACs) to Bend City Council candidates have to say? We tracked down the biggest contributors to the local races and asked them how they decide which candidates to support, and how that reflects their members' political priorities.

Locally, there are a few major players. Among them are the Bend Business Political Action Committee, the Central Oregon Small Business PAC, the Central Oregon Association of Realtors PAC, the Bend Good Government Committee, the Oregon League of Conservation Voters PAC and the Bend Firefighters Association PAC Fund.

While voters ultimately decide which candidates win elections, the financial support candidates receive plays a major role in both the degree and nature of their exposure to potential voters. While PACs often get a bad rap in state and national elections for the perception that they unduly influence election outcomes, in less well-funded local races, support from a PAC can enable candidates to run ads in local media they might not otherwise be able to afford.

"Campaigns are expensive, even local ones, and candidates have to raise money to compete. They should not be expected to be independently wealthy or bankrupt their families to be a part of this democratic process," says Kim Gammond, education, events and communications coordinator for the Central Oregon Association of Realtors. "PACs allow citizens who might not otherwise have a voice in the political process to come together through small contributions."

Below are the four largest PACs contributing funds to candidates for City Council. See the sidebar for a breakdown of each candidate's largest supporters.

The Central Oregon Association of Realtors PAC

One of the largest contributors to the 2014 Bend City Council races is the Central Oregon Association of Realtors PAC. Between candidates Mark Capell, Casey Roats, and Scott Ramsay, the PAC has donated $15,000.

COARPAC, founded in 2002, is the local partner of Realtors Political Action Committee (RPAC), a 45-year-old PAC dedicated to furthering the real estate industry and ensuring that local, state and federal government officials hear its concerns. According to Gammond, the PAC is distinct from the association, and candidate contributions are voluntary and separate from COAR membership dues.

When it comes to backing candidates, COARPAC endorses candidates it believes will support housing affordability, expanding the urban growth boundary, and the protection of private property rights. It also engages in advocacy work throughout the year.

"Locally," Gammond says, "COARPAC has played a key role in helping COAR's Government Affairs program to ensure that Realtors can reasonably use real estate signs to serve their clients, to urge local governments to maintain the statutorily required 20-year supply of land, to fight for housing affordability by opposing rising permit fees and SDCs, [and] to oppose and combat the negative effects of anti-business and no-growth public policies."

The Bend Business PAC

Tied for the spot of second biggest spender in the council races is the Bend Business PAC, which has doled out $6,600, divided evenly among Mark Capell, Casey Roats, and Scott Ramsay. Like the COARPAC, it is affiliated with but distinct from a local non-profit organization. In this case: Bend Chamber of Commerce.

The PAC raises funds through $50 membership fees and currently has just over 80 members. Formed in 2006, it focuses on a broad range of issues, including the economy, education, health and human services, and public safety.

To select which candidates to endorse, the PAC's trustees attend public forums, meet to discuss the candidates, and take a simple majority vote. In addition to the City Council candidates, the Bend Business PAC is endorsing, but not contributing funds to, Deschutes County Commission candidate Tony DeBone and House District 54 candidate Knute Buehler.

"The BBPAC is a group of business minded individuals who care about the quality of life of our community," says Bend Chamber President and CEO Tim Casey. "Supporting businesses and economic development-minded candidates helps encourage healthy growth through sound policy making."

The Central Oregon Small Business PAC

Another major contributor to the local races is the Central Oregon Small Business PAC, which has likewise contributed $6,600 to council candidates Mark Capell, Casey Roats, and Scott Ramsay. The PAC is run by Oregon State Sen. Tim Knopp (R-Bend) and the Central Oregon Builders Association (COBA).

Andy High, the vice-president of governmental affairs for COBA, says the PAC focuses on candidates it believes will support small business and job creation.

"The candidates voting record and public statements determine which candidates we support," High says, adding that the PAC includes "individuals and small businesses that unite together exercising their First Amendment right by participating in electing citizens that best understand small business issues and job creation."

The Bend Firefighters Association PAC Fund

Coming in at a lower dollar amount but bucking the trend of supporting the same three council candidates, the Bend Firefighters Association PAC Fund has contributed $1,500 to council candidates, giving $1,000 to Lisa Seales and $500 to Mark Capell. The fund has also donated $1,000 each to Deschutes County Commission candidate Jodi Barram and House District 54 candidate Craig Wilhelm.

As one might expect, the fund seeks to promote candidates and legislation that support public safety generally, and issues affecting firefighters specifically. Members of the association are not required to donate to the PAC fund.

"We prefer candidates have some prior experience with government, like serving on a citizen committee," says Petar Hossick, a firefighter and paramedic with the Bend Fire Department. "We conduct interviews with potential candidates."

Also on the scene

Though not a local PAC, the Oregon League of Conservation Voters PAC does have some skin in the game. The statewide committee has contributed $2,000 to Nathan Boddie and $500 to Lisa Seales.

Additionally, candidates Nathan Boddie, Lisa Seales, and Barb Campbell have donated some of their own funds to a new PAC, the Bend Good Government Committee. Founder Charlie Ringo, a local attorney and former politician, says he created the PAC specifically to support those candidates, but wouldn't provide any details about how he's using the approximately $15,000 he's raised to promote them. According to state campaign finance records (ORESTAR), more than $10,000 has gone toward printed materials and other media.


Mark Capell (Seat 5)

Central Oregon Association of Realtors PAC—$5,000

Central Oregon Small Business PAC—$2,200

Bend Business PAC—$2,200

Ron Robinson, Jr.—$1,000 (owner, Jack Robinson and Sons)

Jeff Robberson (president, Robberson Ford)—$1,000

Mike Hoover (real estate office owner)—$1,000

Kim Ward (developer)—$1,000

Baney Corp (owner, Oxford Hotel)—$750

Bend Firefighters Association PAC Fund—$500

Nathan Boddie (Seat 5)

Oregon League of Conservation Voters PAC—$2,000

Moontimes (owner, Astro Lounge) —$1,200

Alice Finer (candidate's family)—$1,000

Hampton Finer (economist, New York Federal Reserve)—$1,000

Jeffrey Boyer—$1,000

David Boyer—$750

Anna Boyer—$700

Ben Coffman (investor)—$500

Casey Roats (Seat 6)

Central Oregon Association of Realtors PAC—$5,000

Central Oregon Small Business PAC—$2,200

Bend Business PAC—$2,200

Jan Wick (owner, Avion Water Company)—$1,000

Kim Ward (developer)—$1,000

Timothy Eide (developer)—$1,000

Ron Robinson, Jr. (owner, Jack Robinson and Sons)— $1,000

Baney Corp (owner, Oxford Hotel)—$750

Nase Company LLC (owner, Sunriver Resort)—$500

Lisa Seales (Seat 6)

Bend Firefighters Association PAC Fund—$1,000

Georgina Cullman (researcher, American Museum of Natural History)—$1,000

Jeffrey Boyer—$750

Oregon League of Conservation Voters PAC—$500

William Smith (developer)—$500

Edward Cullman (executive, Cullbro LLC)—$500

Ron Boozell (Seat 6)

No donations recorded

Richard Robertson (Seat 6)

No donations recorded

Scott Ramsay (Seat 7)

Central Oregon Association of Realtors PAC—$5,000

Central Oregon Small Business PAC—$2,200

Bend Business PAC—$2,200

Kim Ward (developer)—$1,000

Baney Corp (owner, Oxford Hotel)—$750

Made to Order Woodworking—$500

Jeff Robberson (owner, Robberson Ford)—$500

Wayne Purcell (owner, Riverhouse Hotel)—$500

Barb Campbell (Seat 7)

Approx. $6,500 in donations, primarily from candidate's family.

Smaller donations include:

Nathan Hovekamp (biology instructor)—$300

David Newbold (engineer)—$250

Tracy Boyer—$250

Dave Paulson (attorney)—$125

(Edited to reflect updated ORESTAR information)

About The Author

Erin Rook

Erin is the Source Weekly's Associate Editor. Before moving to Bend in 2013, Erin worked as a writer and editor for publications in Portland including PQ Monthly and Just Out. He has also written for the Willamette Week, El Hispanic News, Travel Portland, OUT City, Boston magazine and the Taunton Daily Gazette...

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