Group spends $576,000 on signature campaign

SALEM — The signature-gathering drive that put the Legislature’s $800 million tax increase on the Feb. 3 ballot spent $576,000, according to a campaign finance report filed Wednesday.

Most of the Taxpayer Defense Fund’s spending was for postage and printing, said Russ Walker, the Northwest director for Citizens for a Sound Economy and leader of the referendum drive.

The spending included $71,000 paid to Arno Political Consultants, a California company that collected some signatures. Walker said the campaign submitted about 25,000 of the roughly 35,000 signatures collected by Arno after checking them for potential problems.

Elections officials determined the campaign submitted more than 115,000 valid signatures Nov. 25, more than double the number needed to put the referendum on the ballot.

The signature drive raised $610,000. Most of the money — $337,608 — came from the Oregon Citizens for a Sound Economy political action committee. The majority of its donations came from five prominent Oregon businesses, Walker said.

The donations included $55,100 each from A-Dec, a Newberg dental equipment manufacturer co-founded by Joan Austin; Columbia Helicopters, founded by Wes Lematta of Vancouver; Jeld-Wen, a Klamath Falls window- and door-maker founded by Richard Wendt; and Seneca Sawmill, which is owned by Aaron Jones of Eugene. Freres Lumber of Lyons gave $27,550.

— Dave Hogan Cheney visit expected at fund-raiser in Portland Vice President Dick Cheney is expected to appear at a Portland fund-raiser Jan. 13, according to invitations to the event circulating among Republican donors.

Cheney’s visit is yet another sign of the importance that the major political parties are attaching to Oregon, which is one of about 15 battleground states in the next presidential election.

President Bush appeared at an August fund-raiser in Portland that raised at least $1 million from about 500 donors who contributed $2,000 apiece. Republican officials said it was the largest fund-raiser of its kind in Oregon history.

Tickets to the Cheney event are $1,000 a person, or $10,000 for one or two people if they want to have their photograph taken with the vice president, according to the invitation.

Presidential and vice-presidential travel schedules normally aren’t officially announced until a few days before the event, and officials connected with the Bush-Cheney campaign declined to comment.

— Jeff Mapes Minnis sponsors PAC for

GOP House candidates

SALEM — Oregon House Speaker Karen Minnis is backing a new political action committee.

She said the purpose of the Speaker’s committee will be to raise money to support Republican candidates running for House seats.

Minnis, a Republican from Wood Village, presides over a Republican-controlled chamber with a 35-25 majority.

“I want to do whatever is needed to maintain control and expand our numbers in the House,” she said.

The new committee is the first official fund-raising arm of an Oregon House speaker since the early 1990s.

Minnis said she won’t distinguish between conservatives and moderates when deciding who gets the money from the committee.

— The Associated Press Treasurer worries bond ratings could drop again The state treasurer is asking voters to support the $800 million tax increase measure to avoid any further erosion of Wall Street confidence in Oregon.

Randall Edwards said there will be “enormous pressure” on the Legislature to borrow heavily to make up the shortfall if Measure 30 fails Feb. 3 and the temporary tax surcharge is defeated.

“I just want to make it clear that we cannot look to long-term borrowing to make up the difference,” Edwards said Wednesday.

The state Treasury already sold more than $450 million in bonds to help make up for the budget shortfall earlier this year that resulted in cuts such as Oregon State Police layoffs and closure of the state court system every Friday from March until July.

Edwards, a Democrat, said the state will have to pay more than $120 million in interest on those bonds, making it even more important for voters to approve the $800 million increase to help balance the state budget and avoid additional borrowing.

All three big bond-rating agencies on Wall Street have downgraded Oregon bonds this year, meaning the state is considered a higher investment risk and must pay more interest.

— The Associated Press CONTACTS GOV. TED KULONGOSKI Phone: 503-378-3111 Internet: Mail: 900 Court St. N.E., Salem OR 97301 %%par%THE LEGISLATURE Phone: 800-332-2313 outside Salem; 503-986-1000 in Salem Internet: