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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 15, 2004 1:01 PM. The previous post in this blog was It can't happen here -- can it?. The next post in this blog is Endangered species. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Busted

Movie theater mogul Tom Moyer has been indicted, along with two others, on charges of making campaign contributions under false names to Portland mayoral candidate Jim Francesconi, according to a story in this morning's Oregonian. I must say, I'm pleasantly surprised that the Oregon Department of Justice has actually dared to do something about corrupt practices in public life. Here's hoping that the DOJ's ambitions in that regard don't stop there.

Even more surprising, the O ran the story on the front page (albeit with a small headline, and below the fold), even though Mr. Moyer is a heavy advertiser with that publication (or at least, he was for many years). You can bet the editors called the advertising department over there before that decision was made.

No one in the Francesconi campaign was charged, and so of course old Jim-Bob was in the paper pointing out how his office was "cleared." This is apparently the new definition of being "cleared" in Oregon -- the prosecutor decided not to indict you. Anyway, innocent though he may be, Francesconi takes yet another hit to his battered campaign, which reportedly even he thinks is doomed. I suppose this sordid tale will also boost City Commissioner Erik Sten's proposal to have the taxpayers in town foot the bill for public financing of local political races.

According to the news story, Francesconi admits he knew that two large donations to his campaign were made by an employee and relative of Moyer. But he says that neither he nor anyone on his campaign staff knew that the money was actually Moyer's, as alleged (but not yet proven) by prosecutors.

Francesconi is an energetic fundraiser who has even used an auxiliary office in a downtown law firm to dial for dollars for his campaign. As a guy who prides himself on raising money, what did he think when Moyer gave him $500, Moyer's secretary gave him $2,000, and Moyer's granddaughter gave him $2,500 (math majors out there, you see the total is $5,000) all on the same day?

I wonder if there are any other skeletons of this sort in his or other candidates' donor rolls. What, if any, duty does a political candidate have to check out the true sources of contributions coming his or her way from relatives of the wealthy and powerful?

I guess one could ask Francesconi, whose list of supporters includes both the wife and the ex-wife of You-Know-Who, but not The Man himself. You know, another unindicted gentleman, but one definitely not "cleared."

Comments (19)

Considering how Francesconi has shot himself repeatedly through both feet during this campaign, the Moyer folks are probably beating themselves with brambles for giving him anything in the first place.

By the way, the street final of the paper had this story front page above the fold.

And this demonstrates that there should be no limits on fund-raising. Period. As much as class-warfare whiners like to complain about The Rich™, contribution limits are counter-productive.

It could be argued that a concession should be made for campaigns to list Who gave How Much...but money limits are still counter-productive. And money limits lead to idiotic ideas like Sten's to have the gov't (read: You and Your Tax Dollars) pay for the whole thing.

Yeah, maybe the PGE-affliated Jim-Bob supporters like Fred Miller, Peggy Fowler and Judy Peppler aren't buying his future vote(s)...

Just like Chimp Boy's "Rangers" aren't buying access...

I can understand why the Oregonian felt compelled to link Moyer to Neil Goldschmidt, but did they have to drag Sugar Ray Robinson into the story?

Is nothing sacred?

So? Where's the crime? Seems to me Moyer's covered his act. Since when can't three sovereign individuals act in concert, if they did.
So they all made the same decision on the same day after discussing it the night before.
Are you a criminal because you and a friend decided to contribute on the same day? Think about it. I don't even like Moyer.

Are you a criminal because you and a friend decided to contribute on the same day?

I imagine part of this will depend upon whether or not there is evidence to demonstrate that Moyer's co-contributors actually received compensation from him for their contributions.

OK. So your friend lent you the money to make your contribution. Is that compensation or just being a good guy? I still don't see the crime.

If the Moyer folks don't get the law thrown out as "overbroad," either of two things will happen: they'll plead "no contest" or the case will be tried. If the case is tried, we'll find out what really happened. If it isn't, we won't. I'm not sure it's worth speculating about what actually went on.

If I were they, though, I'd take a tip from Martha Stewart's miscalculations and get this thing over with quickly.

Buried in the article was the interesting statement by Commissioner Francesconi that he returned the three questioned contributions last month, that is to say, in August.

This story first broke in April.

Why did he wait four months?

I prefer to think of our Clean Campaign proposal as taxpayers footing the bill directly.

Erik - Why should I foot the bill directly for any campaign? Seriously, why should the gov't spend my money on people I don't want supported?

Scott,

Good question. I think your premise assumes that the current system of unlimited contributions from vested interests costs you nothing. I think it costs you a lot,and whatever you may think of me, I know something about how the electoral game is played in this town. From my experience in govt., you have both a perception and existence of serious conflicts of interest. Both are impediments to better results. While the problem may be worse at the federal level, it clearly exists in Portland, and needs to be reformed everywhere. Set up properly, you won't have many, if any, non-serious candidates qualifying and you are highly likely to get more choices you like. Proposed cost of the system is $1.3 million or about a third of a percent of the budgets from which it would come. I believe you'll get that back. Why not try it?

The main argument against public financing is that you have to pay for it. That assumes you are getting a free lunch now. You sound way to cynical to actually think that is true. Jack and I have debated privately what the best way to pay for it might be, and like all things that ought to get done, there isn't any magic way to do it.

I'm trying to get off the computer, so I don't have time to give you a fresh, full argument tonight. Take a look at the power point presentation that Gary Blackmer, the City Auditor, put together on this subject. It's very good. I believe you can link to it quickly by clicking on him at the city home page www.ci.portland.or.us. If not, I'll try and find a better link.

Clearly, a topic worth debating, whether we agree or not.
Erik

Under what auspices is Tom Moyer a heavy advertiser in the Oregonian? Didn't he sell off his theater chain to entertainment megacorp Regal Cinemas a number of years ago? Isn't he strictly in investments and development at this point?

I'd guess the below the fold treatment of the story in it's first appearance had more to do with when the indictment became known and the newspaper's deadlines than any presumed conspiracy between the newsroom and the advertising staff. They've certainly plastered it all over since then.

"Buried in the article was the interesting statement by Commissioner Francesconi that he returned the three questioned contributions last month, that is to say, in August."

You know, I thought I remembered seeing that as well, and was going to ask the same question when I posted about this on Communique. Thing is, I can't find that bit in the article as it was posted online. I've re-read it six times now -- am I just missing it?

Re: Powerpoint presentation on Clean Money.

Powerpoint Version

PDF Version

Both available from this page.

b!X, I don't know if it is or was on the online edition, but it was in the print edition on September 15 as follows, on page A9: "Francesconi said Tuesday he was pleased his campaign had been cleared. He knew Tune and Kassab were associated with Moyer, but said Moyer did not talk about the contributions. The campaign returned the three contributions about a month ago, he said."

Erik - I see where you are coming from with the idea to reduce impropriety, but you would have to take it all the way to be effective - and that in itself isn't practical. If there are no campaign contributions, there can be no favors of any kind during or after political life. Politicians can't write books, get consulting jobs, and so on. I don't see how that is feasible.

Here is another alternative that wouldn't cost tax payers anything AND that would require television stations to perform their correct function of "custodians" of the airwaves, versus acting like robber barons:

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/27/opinion/27alben.html?th

Unlike the author of this article, I don't think it should be limited to Congressional races.

TrackBack

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Busted:

» Three Francesconi Contributors Indicted For Illegal Donations from The One True b!X's PORTLAND COMMUNIQUE
We experienced an interesting arc on this story earlier today, since we first read the brief item at the tail end of today's "Murmurs" column in Willamette Week: At press time yesterday, a Multnomah County grand jury was considering whether to issue a ... [Read More]

» Give till it hurts, but show ID first from Isaac Laquedem
I've pondered the story about Tom Moyer being indicted for allegedly giving money to the campaign of Commissioner Francesconi in the names of his assistant and his granddaughter since I read it in the Oregonian this morning. (Here's Jack Bog's [Read More]


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