April 12, 2004

Potter Fans Form PAC, Newell Battles 'Willamette Week'

Two Quick Dispatches From The Primary Election

Elsewhere in election news, supporters of Mayoral candidate Tom Potter have opted to do an end-run around his $25 campaign contribution limit and have formed a political action committee, which describes itself as organized both to support Potter and to oppose Jim Francesconi.

Earlier today, PAC organizers filed their statement of organization and launched an initial website for what they're calling the Go Potter Go! PAC.

Their website details their reasons for creating the committee, and the frustration of some Potter supporters over not being able to contribute more than $25 per person, and offers something of a confession that Potter himself might not approve of the committee, given his committment to limit contributions to his campaign.

The PAC, organized by Adrian Russell-Falla, who is a campaign manager for City Council candidate Frank Dixon, says that it is entirely independent from the Potter campaign, and will "express both its independent support for Potter, and its opposition to Francesconi, in conformance with the law, and without impermissible coordination with the Potter campaign."

In related news, Potter's first pre-election contribution and expedniture summary was posted online today, and indicates that he received $44,989.58 in contributions, had $39,195.63 in expenditures, and had an ending balance of $8,195.94. But with outstanding loans and expenditures, his financial status at the close of the accounting period was $16,609.24 in debt.

Meanwhile, City Council candidate Jason Newell is pushing back hard against the exclusion of candidates other than Sam Adams and Nick Fish from events such as the upcoming Candidates Gone Wild! forum sponsored by Willamette Week, Bus Project, and the City Club of Portland's New Leaders Council.

Last last week, Newell sent out an email suggesting "a story about how the major media limits their reporting only to Nick Fish and Sam Adams.  Then various media personalities gripe about the two sound the same, but fail to report on a 3rd candidate that contrasts very well with the other two."

Today, Newell responded to an email from a Willamette staffer about the rescheduling of endorsement interviews by adding other candidates and local media to his reply. In it, Newell writes:

Of course you know that on April 19th both Nick Fish and Sam Adams are the only two candidates being included in the Willamette Weekly candidate forum, and all the other candidates for Position 1 are being excluded. However, why are Nick Fish and Sam Adams being interviewed separately and the remaining five candidates as a group? Is this interview a formality for your endorsement of Fish or Adams, similarly to the Oregonian's endorsement?

We don't pass this along to weigh in with any particular viewpoint, although we have been trying to hit multi-candidate forums so readers get at least some sort of exposure to "minor" candidates.

However, to show how attention follows the money (even for presumptively progressive people such as Wilamette Week and Bus Project, who should know better), here are the breakdowns for Adams, Fish, and Newell.

Adams reports contributions of $253,923.31, expenditures of $126,228.17, a cash balance of $127,695.14, and a financial status at the close of the accounting period of a balance of $101,383.01.

Fish reports contributions of $200,579.29, expenditures of $146,716.40, a cash balance of $106,130.15, and a financial status at the close of the accounting period of a balance of $95,912.07.

Newell reports contributions of $4,301.40, expenditures of $3,849.49, a cash balance of $459.89, and a financial status at the close of the accounting period of a balance of $280.28.

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Comments (17)

  1. Ed on 12 Apr 2004

    Independent? Adrian Russell-Falla, in the detailed Potter report, received $6,153 for services performed and the name is prominent on Potter's web site. By the way, the Potter report lists "contributions under $50" totalling more than $40,000 and despite Potter's focus on "campaign finance reform" doesn't reveal one single cash contributor.

    I find it strange that the Potter campaign doesn't even list the number of contributors.

    Further, Tom has invited people to bundle their contributions (see the Potter web site under credit card contributions.) State law prohibits bundling of contributions.

    Transparency apparently doesn't extend to the Potter campaign.

    Ed

  2. observer on 12 Apr 2004

    That last comment sounds like it comes from Ed Grosswiler, the architect of the Francesconi campaign.

  3. The One True b!X on 12 Apr 2004

    Either that or it's someone who knows Ed's email address and Web domain, because that's precisely what that information points to.

  4. The One True b!X on 12 Apr 2004

    But since Ed's here, and chiding the Potter campaign for a lack of transparency, we hereby challenge his boss, Jim Francesconi, who supports a law requiring immediate disclosure of campaign contributions, to lead by example and start immediately disclosing his campaign contributions voluntarily via his website.

  5. ed on 12 Apr 2004

    Let me chide the editor a bit for not making the trek to City Hall where he can find that Tom Potter's filing is totally opaque, while the Francesconi campaign lists every contribution. And to "observer," you lavish praise on the wrong person, although I appreciate the correct spelling.

  6. ed on 12 Apr 2004

    Let me chide the editor a bit for not making the trek to City Hall where he can find that Tom Potter's filing is totally opaque, while the Francesconi campaign lists every contribution. And to "observer," you lavish praise on the wrong person, although I appreciate the correct spelling.

  7. ed on 12 Apr 2004

    Let me chide the editor a bit for not making the trek to City Hall where he can find that Tom Potter's filing is totally opaque, while the Francesconi campaign lists every contribution. And to "observer," you lavish praise on the wrong person, although I appreciate the correct spelling.

  8. The One True b!X on 12 Apr 2004

    Goodness me, a hobbyist reporter with no resources and who does this for free hasn't yet found the time to go wade through every candidate's full campaign disclosures. How bad of me.

    Nonetheless, even if the difference between the filings is accurate, "transparency" is hardly achieved by filing reports at City Hall which most people will never have the chance to see.

    Not that htis is a criticism limited to the Francesconi campaign, but then that's why (in the latest item), I've challenged everyone.

  9. ed on 12 Apr 2004

    Ahh. The price of fame!
    Expectations.

  10. The One True b!X on 12 Apr 2004

    Well, certain expectations will have to wait until I find out once and for all if there's a single relevant grant out there to pay for this thing. Thus far, there doesn't appear to be.

  11. Adrian Russell-Falla on 13 Apr 2004

    ah! Commissioner Francesconi's shock-trooper reveals just how teed-off Battleship Francesconi is about not being able to get at the sub-$50 donors to Tom Potter's insurgency campaign, the better to target them with their $1M armory of persuasion tools.

    tough noogies.

    the rules of the game say that only contributions above $50 must be identified.

    what's the spirit of that regulation?

    to enable public visibility of major, honesty-warping big-money influences who the public should know may end up pulling the strings of candidates after they become incumbents.

    evidently the State doesn't consider $50 a plausible amount to buy corrupting levels of influence.

    but the law does consider contributions on the record-breaking scale Commission Francesconi has been prising out of some of the largest business interests in the City to be potentially corrupting. hello!

    this city is jam-packed with common-sense citizens with a very clear feeling indeed about just how bent a lot of the City's decision-making really is under its current regime.

    here are the facts about my independence:

    I was a paid staffer (marketing and outreach director) on Tom Potter's campaign from January 1 through March 15th, 2004, when I resigned.

    during that period, I designed the [extremely modest] set of [extremely low-cost] materials the campaign deployed during the first quarter, and conceived, implemented and populated their web site, using free Deanspace open-source software. I also canvassed many neighborhoods, and found out just how widely disliked current Council incumbents are, Francesconi and Leonard in particular.

    to preempt other smear attempts: my 11-yr old daughter Alexandra has been so interested in and inspired by what she heard about the Tom Potter campaign that she's become an active volunteer with the campaign, and an early and enthusiastic blog poster. [now GoPotterGo! exists, we're as careful about dinner-table discussions as Mary Matalin and James Carville.]

    big money numbs voters.

    that's why turnout figures are so appallingly low. the US has the lowest voting rates in the Western world.

    we clearly need big change. but people don't know how to make it happen, and all too often are afraid to try. the beneficiaries of the status quo have no interest in enabling change.

    in the real world, I'm looking for my next gig; early stage technology startups. great business opportunities take a while to find or create. the markets I work in are national and international -- I've never even bothered with PDX politics before.

    late last year, though, a friend drew my attention to what was happening here in our backyard this electoral season.

    I found that the disparity between a man with clearly-proven principles and integrity -- Tom Potter -- vs. the principles-averse Commissioner Francesconi (whose insecurity about the attractiveness his miniscule list of accomplishments from two terms in office is so strong he felt compelled to blow the roof off all prior money-raising levels in Portland history) was so obviously skewed that it calls out to the high heavens for anyone of conscience to do something about remedying it.

    you know anything so obvious it can even get Mayor Vera Katz on record saying "With raising that kind of money, it is assumed the candidate has already won because they can buy the election" just stinks badly.
    "There's about this much you need," she says, then spreads her hands twice as wide: "This much," she says, "is obscene."

    so, I've put some focused attention to the problem.

    Tom's $25 campaign finance strategy is a statement of personal principle and ethical standards. it also is very very difficult to make work in the media-driven climate we live in.

    first I joined the campaign, and did my best to help crank it up internally.

    then, after observing first-hand the strengths and limitations of Tom's campaign, I decided the best thing I could do was a) leave, and b) by pursuing my free-speech options as a private citizen, take another tack at evening up the odds for the only realistic challenger to incumbent Commissioner Francesconi.

    note that I cheerfully accept the risk of finding insufficient support out there for GoPotterGo!-PAC. so I may not be able to afford to do this for long and also keep a roof over my family's heads. (being a half-time campaign manager for another City Council candidate running against another well-funded incumbent doesn't put one in the lap of luxury.** see footnote)

    in entrepreneurial circles, that's called "betting on the come", a phrase used about people who take a huge upfront risk from intense belief and commitment to the validity of what they're embarking on -- and jump onto the high wire without the need for a financial safety net.

    frankly, it's upsetting to Ed and the rest of the mercenary political hacks aboard Battleship Francesconi only because I have greater independence than they will ever understand, let alone match.

    and having watched their fearful, twitching leader triangulate his way away from any and all issues of principle until the last possible moment -- when he's certain he'll incur no possible political risk [his nauseating contributions to the Dignity Village and campaign financing reform debates come freshly to mind] -- it's clear he recruits people like that for a reason.

    it's just not a reason that makes him a good leader for Portland.


    Adrian Russell-Falla
    503-381-4678
    adrianrf@gopottergo.com
    GoPotterGo!-PAC
    412 NE 57th Avenue
    Portland OR 97213

    ** footnote:
    though my seat-of-the-pants market research leaves me pretty confident. I don't need to spend the kind of money Battleship Francesconi has been dumping into poll after poll in recent months to know that his effort to "put lipstick on the pig" hasn't yielded a millimeter of advantage so far in the battle for public sentiment.

  12. Dave Lister on 13 Apr 2004

    I find it interesting, if I read it correctly, that Adams has out fundraised Fish. I support Adams, for a variety of reasons, but I thought Fish had more of the big money folks behind him. Evidently not, I guess.

  13. Elizabeth on 13 Apr 2004

    Adams loaned himself $50 K.

  14. Randy Leonard on 13 Apr 2004

    "I also canvassed many neighborhoods, and found out just how widely disliked current Council incumbents are, Francesconi and Leonard in particular"

    Ouch! As if I am not taking enough incomings in my own race....
    "E Tu Thomas?"

  15. Amanda on 14 Apr 2004

    Well, since you brought up "incomings", Commissioner Leonard...

    According to The Oregonian article, the average donation to your campaign was around $1,500. Is that accurate? And if so, doesn't it conflict with your claim to be representing normal working people?

  16. Brian Smith on 14 Apr 2004

    The exclusion from debates has been going on for awhile, problem is there's nothing other candidates can do. I know there a quite few candidates for position #4 that feel the same way. People need to start asking these top candidates the tough questions without having the opposition. Isn't that the meaning of debate?

    For being a progressive city, the lead candidates seem to lack any real new ideas.

    Personally I have received a grand total of $25 in donations which covered my printing costs. I ran a campaign based on issues not endorsements and money. I definately need some polishing but I plan on following City Hall closely. Working on starting a Portland public advocacy group and build a progressive movement in this city. So whoever the winners are they better run a tight ship. We want action not more surveys and wasting money.

  17. The One True b!X on 14 Apr 2004

    The exclusion from debates has been going on for awhile, problem is there's nothing other candidates can do.

    Sure there is. Show up at them anyway and talk to the people who attend both before and after the debate. Or if audience questions are taken, ask one and identify yourself as an excluded candidate.

    James Posey has done this at least once at a forum to which he was not invited.

Trackbacks (2)

  1. Really full disclosure on 12 Apr 2004

    The One True b!X is nudging Jim Francesconi's campaign in the direction of transparency, meaning posting its contributors daily. "Ed" responds (same link) that Tom Potter's campaign hasn't disclosed its contributors. But the real question is not who is...

  2. The color of money on 13 Apr 2004

    The candidates in the Oregon primary elections have filed their reports on how much they've raised so far for their campaigns. The numbers in the City of Portland municipal races can be found starting here; the State of Oregon reports...