Alexander Flores (R), a relative political newcomer in Washington County, has raised just over $150,000 in cash and in-kind donations for his campaign for State Senate District 15. If you compare that to the roughly $21,000 raised by Democratic opponent and incumbent Chuck Riley, you might assume that Flores has widespread support in the district. In an April 11, 2018 press release Flores claimed to have built an “unparalleled grassroots organization.”
What we found instead is that just under half of Flores’ donations ($74,842.19) was from The Leadership Fund, a PAC run by the Republican leadership in Oregon’s State Senate. Currently, it is controlled by Jackie Winters, the Oregon Senate Minority Leader who represents District 10, and Fred Girod, an Oregon State Senator representing District 9. In total, 98% of Flores’ funding was received from political committees1.
So where does The Leadership Fund get its money? Primarily, from money raised by Republican Campaign Committees in more conservative parts of Oregon. The biggest contributors to The Leadership Fund in 2018 are Friends of Jackie Winters ($52,946) and the Boquist Leadership Fund ($30,000). Brian Boquist is a state senator representing District 12.
Koch Industries, Inc. also made a $10,000 contribution.
The nature of Flores’ contributions from The Leadership Fund is also noteworthy. All of the contributions from The Leadership Fund are filed as “in-kind contributions.” The Leadership Fund’s Treasurer, Carol Russell of Bandon, OR, is serving as Treasurer for Friends of Alexander Flores, as well. The two committees also share a Correspondence Recipient/Alternate Filer. Some of the “In-Kind” contributions look like direct financial payments on behalf of Flores, including $750 with the description, “Voters’ Pamphlet Statement,” presumably the fee to be included in the voters’ pamphlet2, $3,913.70 with the description “Staff Payroll,” and $24 for “Facebook Ads.”
A March 20 in-kind contribution from The Leadership Fund for $1,200 is described only as “website.” This could have been for Flores’ own campaign site, but The Leadership Fund also funded a fake website created to smear primary opponent Monte Akers’ reputation with fellow conservatives during the May primary.
A more interesting representation of Flores’ grassroots support relative to Riley’s might be the amount of money each candidate has raised from individuals and in the form of contributions less than $100. Riley has raised $5,166 this way, nearly $2,000 more than the $3,219 raised by Flores.
If you’re interested in further exploration of campaign finances you can see who donates to Oregon campaigns and how that money is spent here. Let us know what you find!
- The 2nd largest contributor to the campaign has been Friends of Fred Girod ($53,000), followed by the No Supermajorities PAC ($17,000). ↩︎
- Interesting choice for someone who is both fiscally conservative and focused on running a grassroots campaign to pay this; the fee is waived if you can get signatures from 2,000 registered voters. ↩︎