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Monday, April 10, 2006

Emilie Boyles's "clean money" -- it's half gone

While the City of Portland and the State of Oregon play "go fish" with each other over who might investigate City Council candidate Emilie Boyles's alleged abuse of the city's lovely new "voter-owned elections" system, Boyles has spent about half the $144,900 in taxpayer dollars that the city paid her to finance her campaign.

According to the campaign finance report she filed today, Boyles has spent $73,711 and has $76,144 in the bank. (I'm not sure if that's a "today" number -- it may very well be as of March 31.)

As was ably reported by Betsy at Metroblogging earlier this evening, Boyles paid $15,000 to Vladimir Golovan, the signature-gatherer whose creativity has Boyles in hot water. But to add to the weirdness, she reports paying him with five separate $3,000 checks, issued one each day for five days in a row between February 27 and March 3. (She got her "clean money" from the city on February 24.) Something similar was done with Aaron Minoo, her campaign manager, whom the Boyles campaign paid $3,200 each day for four days, and $2,400 on the fifth day, for $15,200 -- plus another $800 before the City Hall gravy train pulled in.

Boyles also paid her 16-year-old daughter, who just finished high school, $12,500 in three checks on consecutive days over that same period.

Betsy's got more, but that's enough for me. I've lost track amidst the current Portland meltdown -- did the state attorney general's office ever agree to take over this case? The last I heard, the Portland police didn't want to deal with it -- they asked the state to take over. But I never heard whether the folks in Salem accepted the invitation.

I do know that if somebody doesn't act soon, the other half of the $144,900 is about to disappear. Who's in charge at this point? Do we have a name? It certainly isn't the name Sten or Blackmer, the architects of the brave new world.

Perhaps the biggest kick I got out of reading Boyles's report was her moniker for the public campaign finance system. She calls it "resident-owned elections," rather than "voter-owned," because, as she and her pals have ably shown, you certainly don't need real Portland voters' signatures and contributions to snooker $150,000 out of the City Council.

Boyles ought to put in for a finance job at OHSU.

Comments (48)

That 16 year old is pretty popular among her peers right now...

"Who wants another Dr. Pepper? It's on the taxpayers of portland!"

[redacted --JB]

Section 2.10.090 of the code prohibits

a. Salary or payment to a Person, unless the Person is providing bona fide services to the campaign and is compensated at fair market value;

The penalty for violation of this section:

1. A Certified Candidate against whom a civil penalty has been imposed for violation of Section 2.10.090 shall return to the Auditor an amount of money equal to all revenues distributed to the Candidate from the Campaign Finance Fund after the date the Candidate was certified, plus interest on the total amount of revenues received at a rate of 12 percent per annum, in addition to the penalty and interest on the penalty.

I don't think the AG is going to have to work too hard on this one.

Excepting the computers from Fry's, at least her expenditures are into the local economy. With the city hall gang, the farther away the funds get spread, the better. Who knows, maybe she's done the local economy a big favor, compared to what they would do if it were kept in the general fund.

JohnRettig - Classic "broken window" economics. ;)

I have an idea. File for office through VOE (with Russian expat sigs, natch). Get $150,000. Buy $150,000 worth of hammers. Distribute to local "homeless youth." Watch economy explode into orgy of hammer-induced growth. Oh, and invest in window-replacement business.

Er, Chris, excuse me? Please save the potentially libelous stuff for Kari's blog. Thanks.

Oh, and when you have a name at the AG's office, I'm sure you'll let us all know.

What happens to the computer gear from Fry's after the campaign?
Do you get to keep the stuff?

What an astounding question, Bill! I'm sure nobody thought of that. We'll have to "tweak" that.

My favorite is the $24.50 to an eBay storefor campaign supplies. From this store:

I guess she needed a lot of ribbon...

Maybe when the money runs low, Emilie can pay her daughter with the computer gear in lieu of cash. Just trying to be helpful.

Emilie's daughter is clearly the next Bob Shrum. Getting paid a pile to do...nothing of consequence.

Has Boyles actually done ANY campaigning?

the jackals are having their day....

This is just appalling.

This is just appalling.

Put it on the list of you-know-who's "achievements."

Don't these payments look like 'structuring' to avoid IRS reporting? Or does campaigning allow you to avoid all of that?

Jack, you probably know don't you?

Put it on the list of you-know-who's "achievements."


Don't remind me.

I may have to stop reading your blog, Jack, to retain any sense of hope and optimism in politics that I may have left.

I have no idea why Boyles cut multiple checks. I seriously doubt that she's getting good tax advice.

But now there's an interesting question I honestly hadn't thought of before -- are "voter-owned election" amounts received from the city taxable to the candidates who receive them?

I would suspect that gifts from private donors are customarily treated as tax-free gifts, ignored for income tax purposes. But are transfers from the city elections fund gifts? They're not exactly the same thing. Perhaps Commissioner Sten had better pay his accountants a few more grand to look that one up.

Out of his own pocket this time.

to retain any sense of hope and optimism in politics that I may have left.

Now, now. Vote the rascals out! And tell your friends.

Well, are a candidate's "campaign expenses" deductible under sec. 162 (or some other provision), or do we have to capitalize the cost of attaining office, or is there some other tax treatment?

Hmmm. Gifts to your child are not deductible, I know that...


Everyone gets lucky once in a while. When the City Council changed Clean Money to Voter-Owned Elections, it was to avoid the suggestion that former campaign contributions were dirty. I bet they’re especially glad they made that change now, since it looks like Clean Money can be dirty, too.

You guys should realize Mr Chisholm's focus was on allowing the candidates to spend more time with voters and not raising money with this - so forget the "clean money" moniker.

I am awaiting Erik to set up the "meet the voters" time/place so he and Mr Lister and Ms Burdick can actually meet real people.

"a. Salary or payment to a Person, unless the Person is providing bona fide services to the campaign and is compensated at fair market value;"

I thought Mr Durston was Erik's chief of staff already and making $4-5K a month extra is not bad. Also, Berit Stevenson already has a full-time gig at HAP and she is pulling in some good coin also.

This thing is getting to be a friends and family bonus plan.

I think many times Sten & Company are trying to do the right thing, I have heard him speak a number of times and he appears earnest, but they lack dicipline and the staff with any saavy on how to do things, they know politics inside and out but not how to make things work in real life. The system is set up so if you have saavy, and point out these pesky little details of how to make things accountable and work or how much it will really cost or where the money is really going, you are perceived in City Government as obstuctionist or raining on thier parade and usually end up offending some third party who is invisible but pulling the strings. As you have pointed out there are a number of powerful folks that really orchastrate things that keep themselves once or twice removed from the fray. This confusion actually benefits that crew, that no questions are being asked or clear lines of responsiblity are being drawn. If someone in goverment really does question how this money is spent, or is there a better more equitable way to serve the public they are gone. Most folks that have the advanced degrees and credentials and practice professional ethics prove problems to this crowd, as they are not as easily herded, they are either gotten rid of or discredited or literally driven nuts by the system. I bet if you took a survey of how many of the senior management of the City were on Happy Pills it would be quite enlightening.

I thought Steve Duin's column this AM spoke intelligently of this issue. I mean its not just Foxworth bonking a subordinate and e-mailing on company time, its Mayor Goldschmidt bonking an underage girl, its Condo owners multi million dollar landscaping being built and paid for by the City in the name of Parks while poor neighborhoods that desparately need help building a simple little park for their toddlers to play get none, its increasing density so that new bigger sewer and water lines cost billions to accommodate growth, while tax wavers and increments that would pay for it are granted with out breaking a sweat. There is a lot more, but the budgets are so vague unless you know the system you can't figure out who is getting what until you have studied it for several years.

When a system operates this way, how do you attract ethical smart people to run it, instead you get frustrated folks that do stupid things trying to validate themselves.

did the state attorney general's office ever agree to take over this case? The last I heard, the Portland police didn't want to deal with it -- they asked the state to take over. But I never heard whether the folks in Salem accepted the invitation.

And what happens if the AG doesnt want to do it?
Can the Feds get involved, or are the taxpayers just screwed again?

I hereby ask that "Voter Owned Elections" be renamed

"Voters pwn3d Elections."

Would it be rude of me to laugh myself sick? Yes?


I am writing as the treasurer for the Amanda Fritz campaign.

All campaign donations are to the campaign, not the individual, thus they are neither gifts nor taxable income.

Our campaign paid no one to collect signatures, nor has anyone been paid wages or salary who had any connection to the signature-gathering process.

While the news of Boyles' actions has done nothing to help our campaign, it is important to point out that publicly financed campaigns can be done with integrity, which is how Amanda approached VOE. The goal of removing even the perception of a corrupting influence of campaign contributions remains valid and worthwhile.

The flaws of the system have been exposed, thanks to a process which is open, transparent, and available for scrutiny by anyone. Now we need to fix the problems, rather than taking a step backwards, away from removing the influence those large contributions have on our elected officials.


Why is everyone so hard on Boyles? She's shown that she knows how to "handle" money in the best of Portland traditions and she's demonstrated a strong belief in taking good care of her family and helping immigrants to boot.

And a 16 year-old who has graduated from high school at this point in the school year must be far more advanced than most of us were at that point in our lives. Obviously she was raised right. Seems to me Emilie deserves a "family values" award of some kind.

are the taxpayers just screwed again?

It doesn't look promising.

Isn't there someone in the AG's office who wants to make a name for him/herself? C'mon, aspiring politicos!

How did Emilie spend _exactly_ $750 on telecommunications - the amount she reimbursed herself for the same?

Tim Crail (Fritz's treasurer) makes the curious argument in this thread that Clean Money should be fixed but not thrown out.

Has Amanda taken a position as to whether she will vote to refer publicly funded elections to the voters at the next available election date?

If she and Lister manage to prevail, then (provided Randy doesn't go south) voters could weigh in (without having to hope that G&G won't bungle it again).

I can't tell her position from her website, but since I know she reads this blog.

What do you say Amanda?

Do you think Clean Money deserves a public vote at the next available election?

Seems like it would help to "Restore Trust in Government", it would also be a great example of "Listen, then lead."

How did Emilie spend _exactly_ $750 on telecommunications - the amount she reimbursed herself for the same?

Pre-paid phone cards?

Clean money, the police chief, the tram, etc. And now, "Unwired Portland". What could be the best thing to happen to PDX in years is being "given" to a California company so that more of our jobs and money goes south.

Come on folks, look harder at that Boyles expenditure report.

Eleven thousand and change to Misty Meadows Properties for an "Office lease". For a campaign that won't go longer than the end of May?

Or is that a residential condo in a condo development and a year lease?

Look again at the Frye's expendtures --- only 1 is for a computer. The others are for "hardware". Sounds to me like a big screen TV and an audio unit for that condo.

And 12 thousand and change to her 16 year old daughter.

Your tax dollars at work.

The VOE loonies have a lot to answer for.

Too right, Jim M. I did take a close look at the report. How did Emilie manage to rack up $750 in telecommunications bills in a local election in just a few months? It's not exactly a long-distance proposition here?

That does it. I thought Emilie was just incredibly stupid. Now I think she's just a crook.

Why didn't Blackmer just have the DA order a freeze on the account as soon as the signature fraud was detected? I'm just sick to my guts from what I'm seeing.

Jim M: If you search on the address that she listed as leasing it shows up here:

Enrique's Restaurant

I found her Yahoo profile linked to it too.. ( thing there is she says "I'm a voter-owned candidate" We own her?

Maybe once she doesn't get elected she will use the remaining 'free' lease to start a restaurant. (A resident financed restaurant?)

Swimmer, you are so right. I had this conversation recently with a well-known City Hall insider. It seems that politics is all these guys know, just how to generate publicity and throw fundraisers. The detail is all left out.

As a former candidate I used to plead with the local press to ask the tough questions. We all want "community" and "leadership" and "good jobs" and "safe schools" and "lower taxes," but how are you going to achieve that? What you end up with is a government full of visionaries who passionate about this and that, but there's no cohesive methodology in place to prevent abuse, measure progress, and decide on corrective action.

Portland is a town of microcosm celebrity worship (might as well just make Tonya Harding mayor, at least local hotels will be flooded with photographers and tabloid writers) and feel good rhetoric, politically. It's just really sad to see it come to this or even know that people like Boyles can slither this far into the process. Blackmer's sampling of her VOE signatures has left me doubting every audit finding he's ever reported.

Here's the leased campaign office.

It is interesting comparing Sten's $ 650 per month office rent with Boyles' 11,500.

Burdick paid 1,200 for rent (to something called RMS) in January, no idea what period that covers.
She also paid $ 500. rent deposit in January, and paid $ 783.87 on Feb. 1 for more rent, another 1200 on 02/27/06 for more rent and another 1,200 on March 30 for rent

Gard & Gerber got 11,700+ for postage on March 15 and another 13,000+ on March 30.

Gard & Gerber is making out ok on the taxpayer's dime.

But at least Ginny hasn't spent quite as much on a lease for office space as Emily.

Gard & Gerber is making out ok on the taxpayer's dime.

Burdick is not taking public money.

Jack --

You are rifght. Thanks for that reminder. I knew it, but blanked on it as I typed.

Thanks for the correction.

While this is slightly off-topic, I'd like to point out that I knew Emily about 3 years ago and she was as un-Christian as they come(atheistic). It looks like she decided that being Christian would be a good campaign stance.

I had never read Niccola Machiavelli's "The Prince" until now, (he also wrote Mandrake Root, which as a Deep Purple fan strikes my interest), and I am just getting started. The reason why I decided to read The Prince is because I read that Karl Rove reads it every year, without fail. Karl is "Bush's brain" as they say (fat and ugly?), so it seemed necessary. I think Emilie Boyles would be a great concubine of Rove's.

Maybe Emilie's $11,500 is for a one year lease on a Benz?

I wish my mom was running for City Council, then I wouldn't have to work at the Gap.

I knew Emilie 15 years ago; she said she was Christian then. But I detetected some basic confusion.

Based on the next (in a series) of Anna Griffin skewerings of Emilie Boyles, it sounds like Emilie has internalized the "can't get blood from a turnip" defense.

Does she still get to keep the nifty cellphones and laptops? I have a hard time imagining the Portland Police Bureau playing Erik's repo-man.


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