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Oregon Transparency Project: Political ContributionsErsun Warncke Salem-News.com Business and Economy Reporter
On the individual contribution side, the big spenders are fronting their own campaigns or the campaigns of their family members.
(EUGENE, Ore.) - The Oregon Transparency Project has expanded to include Political Contributions. All transactions listed in the ORESTAR database from January 1, 2009 through July 27, 2010 are currently listed. This data will be update frequently.
The Oregon Transparency Project offers concerned citizens a much easier to use and more informative method for browsing through this data. It is possible to browse through contributors and political committees by the amounts paid and received, and then quickly drill down to find all of the relevant transaction details.
I will be working, as I have time, to improve the interface for accessing this information, and adding additional analytical tools.
A brief review of the data reveals that corporations are leading the way with $15.4 million in contributions, followed by individuals with $10 million, and labor organizations with $8.1 million.
Interestingly, there are $8 million dollars in contributions reported as “MISCELLANEOUS CASH CONTRIBUTIONS $100 AND UNDER,” which means that the source is not reported. This represents about 15% of total contributions.
What is more interesting is that the average amount of these contributions is $407.26, with some ranging up to several thousand dollars.
Other matters of note include the $1.3 million dollars funneled by Clairvest Group Inc., a Canadian investment bank, to the front organization “Good for Oregon”( goodfororegon.org) in order to get two measures on the ballot to allow a casino to be built in Portland.
In an Orwellian naming contest, a foreign bank trying to build a casino in order to rip off our citizens and calling their political committee “Good for Oregon,” would probably take the prize.
As far as corporate shell games and initiative petitions go, the Ross Day fronted “Defend your Castle Committee,” which is pushing Petition 63, has received all of its “In Kind” funding from two corporations controlled by Ross Day, along with a bit from Kevin Mannix.
Political disclosure gets a lot simpler when all of your contributions come from corporations you control, which of course do not have to reveal the sources of their funding.
Top corporate contributors are, unsurprisingly, those that are either major recipients of government contracts or operators of government sanctioned monopolies.
The energy companies PGE and NW Natural, both operators of government sanctioned monopolies whose profits depend on the mood of State regulators, are at the top of the list.
Blue Cross Blue Shield, recipient of $280 million dollars in tax payer money last year, is number three among corporate contributors, with $160,000 in contributions.
Stimson Lumber Company, which donated $75,000 to fighting last year’s tax increase measures, is a top contributor to Chris Dudley with $50,000 on the table to back him to date.
Other top Dudley backers include S & G Properties ($112,000), Austin Industries ($100,000), Phil Knight ($100,000), Daniel Fegan ($100,000), Steve Shepard ($60,353), Lawrence Wilson ($50,000), Oregon Health Care Association ($50,000), Greg Roderick ($28,550), American Industries ($25,000), Don Harmon ($23,000), Peter Brix ($21,000), and Natural Gas Pac ($10,000) [I guess someone wants their pipeline].
Asset Recovery Group has spent $26,035, primarily to the “Professional Adjusters Interested In Democracy” committee, a front for collection agencies. Click Here for a list of politicians financing their campaigns with money from legalized loan sharks.
On the labor side, the Oregon Education Association is the grand champion in organized political spending. They have dropped over $2 million dollars into the political process. The SEIU has spent more than the OEA in total, although it is split up between different official entities.
On the individual contribution side, the big spenders are fronting their own campaigns or the campaigns of their family members. The other big money people are mostly lawyers and doctors (no great surprise there).
This is only a cursory review of the information available, and there will be more to come in the future.
In order to really make sense of this volume of data, serious depth analysis is required, which traces back payments through various committees and corporations to the ultimate contributor.
I will also be conducting a thorough statistical analysis of the links between State spending on private sector contracts and political contributions.
Meanwhile, if anyone would like to get back to me on why the anonymous contributions under $100 actually average out to over $400, I would certainly be interested to know.
Salem-News.com Business/Economy Reporter Ersun Warncke is a native Oregonian. He has a degree in Economics from Portland State University and studied Law at University of Oregon. At a young age, his career spans a wide variety of fields, from fast food, to union labor, to computer programming. He has published works concerning economics, business, government, and media on blogs for several years. He currently works as an independent software designer specializing in web based applications, open source software, and peer-to-peer (P2P) applications.
Ersun describes his writing as being "in the language of the boardroom from the perspective of the shop floor." He adds that "he has no education in journalism other than reading Hunter S. Thompson." But along with life comes the real experience that indeed creates quality writers. Right now, every detail that can help the general public get ahead in life financially, is of paramount importance.
You can write to Ersun at: email@example.com
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