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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Fritz vs. Lewis turns sour

Oh, my. Here I was trying to choose between Amanda Fritz and Charles Lewis for Portland City Council, when along comes an ugly story about Fritz's organization playing elections law cop on Lewis's campaign. A member of the Fritz camp has been complaining unofficially to the city elections folks about a breakdancing event that Lewis held in the fall, and now reportedly someone's complaining to the IRS about the same thing. Something about the nonprofit group that Lewis founded allegedly being improperly involved in his City Council campaign.

I thought we had more important issues before us than this sort of stuff. One of Fritz's big claims to fame is how she has mastered all of the city's arcane "voter-owed election" rules, but hassling other candidates about their compliance with the rules is not helping her candidacy in my eyes. She has every right to play cop, I suppose, but you have to wonder whether that's the energy we need next to Mayor Sam.

Comments (28)

If this is true, Amanda, for shame.

If it's true that Lewis has a non-profit involved in some way in his campaign, that's a pretty big concern, inasmuch as the non-profit's contributors probably did not envision their donations going to a political campaign. And if they did, it would smack of money laundering. So Amanda has a right to bring it up, if indeed Lewis skirted the law.

When somebody produces a shred of evidence that Lewis did something wrong, Amanda might look a little better. The stuff that Tim Crail was railing about at City Hall turned out to have no substance whatsoever. Who knows what is being said to the IRS, or by whom?

Also, anyone who thinks the IRS has the resources or interest to take action in a case like this, doesn't know too much about the tax law.

Speaking of rights, we all have the right to decide against voting for a candidate based on his or her conduct toward other candidates.

"Voter-owed elections" sure are wonderful, aren't they? Between Adams-Dozono Pollgate and this little episode, it sure presents a nice distraction from any actual issues. Millions of tax dollars well spent.

Jurisdiction the IRS has over campaign finance=nil. That responsibility lies with the City Auditor or the Secretary of State. Whoever filed these complaints tried that avenue first and didn't get the answer they wanted. This person either thinks they can intimidate Charles Lewis by going after his non-profit or is willing to put the 501(c)3 status of an organization that provides a valuable service to thousands of kids at risk. All to score a cheap political point.

I wasn't at the event (I've got a waistline the size of Chris Smith's ego and err... waistline). From what I understand not a bit of evidence has been presented that would suggest Lewis did anything wrong.

Amanda Fritz has a smug sense of entitlement. After all she did get her butt kicked by the political powerhouse that is Dan Salzman last time around. How dare Charles Lewis get in her way.

This sort of thing is simply not on.

Apparently Amanda either doesn't know or doesn't care what her supporters do to "help" her get elected.

Can we expect union thugs trying to bully Lewis for an encore.

This is a perfect example of the sort of detached, outcome-based decision making that passes for an ethical code for the self-anointed.

If, of course, it's all true. If not, then I have an open mind ;)

"...Political powerhouse that is Dan Saltzman"

Anybody know how to get hot chocolate off of a computer keyboard? Sticky keys: blech!

Judy: you ever think about writing comedy?

Jurisdiction the IRS has over campaign finance=nil.

Jurisdiction the IRS has over nonprofits that illegally intervene in political campaigns=total. The IRS can destroy a nonprofit in the wink of an eye. They rarely do so, however.


Back in November, I read Amy Ruiz' post on the Charles Lewis hip-hop fundraiser and it raised questions in my mind, based on my understanding of the public financing program. City Code states "No payment, gift or thing of value shall be given or received in exchange for the Qualifying Contribution." I asked the auditor's office whether admission to a performance violated this code provision. When the auditor's office said that they did not believe that a violation had occurred, I let the matter drop.

That would have been the end of the matter except for the anonymous IRS complaint, and today's baseless accusations that Amanda or I made it. Let me be absolutely clear: Neither Amanda nor I had anything to do with the IRS complaint. Yet now, Amanda is the one being slammed.

I asked questions three months ago to make sure we, and other candidates, understood the rules on fundraisers. Our questions were answered and the matter was closed with no negative publicity for the hip-hop event or any candidate. Are you suggesting that other campaigns shouldn't ask questions, quietly and without publicity, to ensure that the system is run as honestly as possible, and that Portland has no more Emilie Boyles fiascos?

Tim Crail
Treasurer for Amanda Fritz campaign

Tim Crail

When someone ask an honest question of the city auditor is one thing and most everyone would understand.

By the way nice smear on Charles Lewis, equating the hip hop dance to the crap pulled by Boyles.

Tim Crail, I believe you called the elections officer twice about this -- hardly "letting it drop." I hope you will find something better to do with your time.

Yet now, Amanda is the one being slammed.

Yes, now she's the victim. Too funny.

Neither Amanda nor I had anything to do with the IRS complaint.

Nor anyone else connected to you, her, or her campaign? Just for the record.

An alert reader points out that this is what the IRS says it does when it receives a complaint about a nonprofit.

For the record, I do not know who submitted the IRS complaint. Nobody connected with me, Tim, or anyone in my campaign would do such a thing. Ethos Music is a wonderful program and the complaint if sustained could harm its non-profit status.

Tim does have better things to do with his time, Jack. We are running an open, honorable campaign, and the false accusation yesterday has forced both Tim and me to divert our attention to setting the record straight.

The first the general public knew of the questions Tim asked three months ago was when Charles publicized them yesterday. I think that proves we did indeed "let it drop" after the Auditor's Office issued a memorandum clarifying the rules and stating none had been broken to date.

I have been accused of filing a complaint with the IRS, which I did not do, nor did anyone associated with my campaign. Forgive me if here at 2 a.m., I'm finding it hard to see how that is "too funny", Jack. I was careful not to damage the Lewis campaign in November, by making sure Tim's and my concerns stayed out of the media since they were not verified. I am sad that the same courtesy of avoiding publicizing unsubstantiated allegations has not become the norm for all Public Campaign Finance candidates.

I'm looking at this memo, and this memo, and I don't see any "question" being "asked" by Tim at all. I see complaints -- unjustified, informal complaints.

And... the Auditor told us the informal complaints (concerns, questions, whatever) were unjustified, clarified the rules for us and all candidates in a memorandum back in November, and that was that. Nobody in the public knew there was any question (concern, informal complaint, whatever), and no harm was done to anyone or any campaign. By no stretch of the imagination did the two conversations reach the level of "hassling other candidates" or "playing cop".

In contrast, accusing me of filing the IRS complaint, in public via multiple media outlets, when I did not and don't know who did, sure feels like hassling to me.

"I see complaints -- unjustified, informal complaints." I see a reasonable inquiry into a potential VOE violation. Supposedly, the $5 "donation" to the campaign was optional in order to get into the event, but did they tell the people standing in line that this was the case? Was a sign prominently displayed at the entrance to the event that said "No Contribution Required for Entry" or other words to that effect? I doubt it. Maybe they didn't require people to pay to get in, but nevertheless created the perception that payment was necessary. Has anyone actually investigated this situation by talking to a few people who went to the event? From the surface of things, all the city employee did was pick up his phone and call Charles Lewis himself and ask a few questions. There was no independent investigation...no third party verification...nothing except for a phone call to the accused violator.

Those of us who know Amanda so well have seen her over the years 'narc ing out her neighbors over tree removals which Amanda claimed violated city codes.

Its no surprse to see Amanda's staffers 'narcing out potential campaign rivals.

It must tough being the Harriet Stassen of city politics, constantly running and never being able to even carry her home precinct.

Then again, Amanda's neighbors know her so well. Especially Marty Susec.

You're being pretty hostile for someone with a limited amount of information.
You posted: "I don't see any "question" being "asked."" The very first sentence of the first memo you linked to says Crail called with "questions."
Also, your post says "has been complaining unofficially to the city elections folks" which implies an ongoing, current discussion, and your first comment says: "railing about at City Hall." In fact, the memos you linked to are nearly 4 months old and the issue was dropped. It's quite clear that nothing would have come of this (and rightly so) once Mr. Crail's initial questions/comments were addressed.
The fact that there are two memos is easily explained by 1) "I've got some questions about X" and 2) "Hey, remember when I called a week ago, whatever happened with X?" See also, Memo #2: "Note: Mr. Crail did not express interest in filing a formal complaint."

Amanda's tone reminds me of how my beloved ball and chain screeches at me when I do something wrong. I can feel the venom. What is she going to do when another council member disagrees with her? It's a recipie for a disfunctional and divided city council.

The IRS also has this announcement:


And the IRS publishes a list of non-profits and charitable organizationst that have lost their tax except status. It is an extensive list.

So, the IRS can make things difficult for these organizations if they get too far out of line.

Maybe Ms Fritz shoudl run a push pol (albeit for info gathering purposes ONLY) on how voters feel about Lewis potentially breaking election laws via break dancing.

God, what a screwed-up city that we are getting worked up about crap like this. Ms Fritz seems as small and mean as her complaints. I can hardly wait for the Adams coronation as the denouement.

"Amanda's tone reminds me of how my beloved ball and chain screeches at me when I do something wrong. I can feel the venom. What is she going to do when another council member disagrees with her? It's a recipie for a disfunctional and divided city council."

I'd rather have a divided city council than one that agrees to give all our money to developers.

I am not taking sides on this Fritz/Lewis Battle-yet, but I think it is time that we do have a "divided city council" on several issues. And this applies to all the trumped-up commissions, blue-ribbon committees, URACs, and other so-called citizen involvement processes.

That is why I am leaning toward supporting Fritz or Lewis. If there's one thing their main opponent, Chris Smith, won't do, it's go against the wishes of the developer overlords who control both him and Sam the Tram.

How can the City Auditor be considered a good "investigator" of anyone else's fraud since he is a potential recipient of the VOE funds for his own elections. Blackmer would have to investigate himself...

The VOE program had lofty aspirations, like its originator, Eric Sten, but has been awfully muddled in its execution.

How much VOE funding did Mrs. Fritz spend in her prior unsuccessful election campaign? And that added to this public campaign funding equals how much? Should there be a cap on how much total funding a candidate can obtain through the VOE program?

"Amanda's tone reminds me of how my beloved ball and chain screeches at me when I do something wrong. I can feel the venom. What is she going to do when another council member disagrees with her? It's a recipie (sic) for a disfunctional (sic) and divided city council."

Dear "J" -- give it up. Though low-browed, club-dragging types continue to hyperventilate about the distress shrill, screechy voices subject the tender male soul to (not to mention those ever-winky "times of the month") -- we got the vote, it's over.

Sometimes we even serve on City Councils. With distinction. Whatever is the world coming to?

Seriously Jack, that this kind of detritus is spawned by your post should at least give you a little sympathy towards Smith and Fritz -- one cannot always choose or control the actions of those hiding in the dark corners of one's fan base...

the actions of those hiding in the dark corners of one's fan base...

I wish I could convince myself that that explains this incident. But I'm having trouble ignoring the circumstantial evidence.

Seriously Jack, that this kind of detritus is spawned by your post...

Oh, well.

Once a racist, always a sexist.

Seriously Jack, how dare you?


"I wish I could convince myself that that explains this incident. But I'm having trouble ignoring the circumstantial evidence."

I just don't see it. Maybe that's because I know Amanda (in real life, as in, other than the rabbit hole of the blogsphere.) So, knowing the real person, I am entirely comfortable with her statement, that she does not do "anonymous".

She doesn't.

You're barking up the wrong tree. I agree it's got a good whiff of political dirty tricks. (Though it could also be a board member or staff or volunteer at Ethos. They would know of the original charge, and know the IRS rules, and without the cover of a political race I'd plunk down money on it being one of them, first-up. Statistically a staff person IS the most likely.) But, given the politics, I hesitate to call it just yet.

But, Amanda? Not.

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