Las Vegas Man Backing Two State Ballot Initiatives

Reclusive Las Vegas millionaire Loren Parks is bankrolling signature-gathering for two more Oregon initiative campaigns — measures that would slash state taxes and require regional election of statewide judges.

Campaign-finance reports for both measures were submitted by Monday’s deadline but were not available because they were misplaced by the state Elections Division staff.

Parks supplied $112,500 of the $114,000 raised for a measure that greatly expands state tax deductions. The measure was submitted by activists Carol and Abner Bobo and spearheaded by the national conservative group FreedomWorks, which provided the other $1,500.

Russ Walker of Keizer leads the group’s Oregon chapter.

The initiative would enable state taxpayers to gain exemptions for themselves, their spouses and dependents in amounts equaling federal deductions for those exemptions. That would provide a 20-fold increase in the state tax break for personal exemptions. That means a substantial state tax cut, especially for families, and a corresponding reduction in state revenue.

Parks is indirectly funding another initiative that would require judges on the Oregon Supreme Court and Court of Appeals to be elected by geographic district rather than statewide.

Backers, including the Bobos and FreedomWorks, hope that will enable the election of more conservative judges from Central, Eastern and Southern Oregon.

The Oregon Family Farm Association Political Action Committee provided $79,746 for that campaign, with FreedomWorks supplying the other $1,000 raised so far.

The family farm group is controlled by Oregonians in Action, a property-rights group that sponsored two initiatives approved by voters but struck down by judges. Those are Measure 7 in 2000 and Measure 37 in 2004. The Measure 37 ruling is being appealed.

Parks provided $100,000 to the Oregon Family Farm Association PAC in August.

Parks made his fortune with a Washington County medical-equipment company. He ranks as the top giver to Oregon initiative campaigns in recent years and is a major contributor to Kevin Mannix, a Republican candidate for governor from Salem.

Parks relocated from the Aloha area to Las Vegas about two years ago. After a brief respite, he has resumed his donations to conservative causes in Oregon politics.

In another initiative report filed Monday, $205,100 was raised for an initiative to allow a Las Vegas-style casino at the former Multnomah Kennel Club near Gresham.

All of the money was supplied by attorney Bruce Studer and Mariposa LLC, which has the same address as Studer.

He is a co-sponsor of the casino initiative but has not divulged the name of clients who hope to develop and operate the casino