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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 18, 2008 8:27 AM. The previous post in this blog was Death in the family. The next post in this blog is Quotation of the Day. 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

Friday, April 18, 2008

Branam's last day?

Portland City Council candidate John Branam must be looking over his shoulder, for a while now. A recipient of "clean money" in the "voter-owed elections" municipal taxpayer campaign finance program, he's been on the carpet for payments to staffers that some say appear to violate the program's rules. If there have indeed been violations, then a fine, an order to pay some "clean money" back, or even disqualification, are theoretically possible. Earlier this week, it was reported that the city auditor's office would likely rule on the charges by the end of the week.

It's Friday.

Now, when the city has bad news to break, Friday is its favorite day to do it. Media viewership (like blog readership) drops off around lunchtime on Friday, and doesn't come back strong until Monday. The City Hall types who are supposedly enforcing the "clean money" rules will be embarrassed to announce yet another infraction -- every miscreant candidate who takes the tax money without full compliance is another knock on their pet experiment. And so the fact that we're all the way to Friday indicates to me that if there's news about Branam this week, it won't be good news.

Comments (11)

Gonna make it pretty tough for Branam to pay those delinquent payroll taxes he didn't withhold from Busse's big checks.

If he has to quit the race, one can assume he won't continue to pay for banner ads, so I imagine we'll soon see a new face in the No. 2 spot in the ad hierarchy over on the right hand side.

To the comment above, if Busse was not an employee, he will have to file a 1099 and pay those taxes himself, right? If he is/was an employee, I agree Branam is responsible.

After refreshing the page, I see that Branam is actually No. 3 on the banner ad list.

If he's out, I also wonder if he will still be hosting the Portland history bike tour on April 26.

If Mr. Branam is DQ'd as a result of spending violations, will he be required to repay the City of Portland all public funds forwarded to him/his campaign? That seems like a hefty price to pay.

Curious, it depends what the auditor says. He could be fined, slapped on the wrist or nothing. However if he is DQed from VOE funding he would probably have to pay it back. One thing to keep in mind though is that even if he get's disqualified from using VOE funds he can still remain on the ballot.

Can any donor -- I mean any private donor -- to any campaign for public office (or initiative) extract a contractual promise from the candidate (or campaign) about how they will spend it?

Let's not confuse just who is the master versus the servant here. Is a gift a gift if there are strings attached?

Whenever I review campaign expenditures and receipts as published by the SoS I can't ever seem to find such contractual strings. Indeed, one candidate or campaign routinely retransfers cash from one recognized entity to another, provide that the new recipient is self-declared a non-profit. Would strings follow such retransfers, in an ever more complex spiral of complexity for policing the strings?

(I too am a non-profit, but that is another matter for another day, because I can give life to a non-profit and then collect a salary.)

The city here is just a private donor, but that characterization gets lost in the minds of folks that think that they and they alone have some unique lock on all that is good, in a world filled with so many evil others.

Suppose Mr. Branam were to retransfer any remaining balance to other candidates that will not raise/spend more than X, but that have not signed any contract with the city. Could the Auditor seek to get it back or to disqualify them for office were they to actually get the number of votes needed to win or participate in a run-off? Such a targeted retransfer would not be incompatible with the the city's stated public interest in the program itself, and would isolate out the issue of the meaning of the contract -- by looking at it from the view of what it means to not have such contract.

The Auditor wants to be Master, motivated only by his self-declared goodness and accountability of course . . . which is wholly incompatible with nearly any definition of gift or donation that I can find.

If I gave 100 grand to candidate Y and I brought a private law suit against them demanding return how would the court view such suit? I guess my one and only claim would be that my gift was not a gift but was instead a loan. So . . . at what point does a loan convert into a gift? When a candidate "wins" office? When a candidate fails to "win" office (and thus lacks the power to regift something else of value)? Or when a candidate says or does something objectionable to the gifter/donor, but that otherwise fits within the following:

"ORS 31.150 [. . .] (2) A special motion to strike may be made under this section against any claim in a civil action that arises out of: [. . .] (d) Any other conduct in furtherance of the exercise of the constitutional right of petition or the constitutional right of free speech in connection with a public issue or an issue of public interest. [. . .]"

The following issue is of greater importance (to me anyway) than the individual candidacy of Mr. Branam:

Shall a city, when in the capacity of donor to any political campaign, have greater power or right of control over such campaign than that of any private donor to any other campaign?

The alleged code violation here is not that the candidate spent more than X, but is qualitative. And any demand for return looks inescapably incompatible with any notion of a gift or donation, rather than that of a loan. When, again, does the loan convert to a gift?

Pdxnag --

This is probably a gross oversimplification, but I would think a private citizen/corporate donor's conditional loan to a candidate would (at least in many instances) violate public policy and thus void a claim for recoupment on the basis that the candidate did not adhere to the "strings."

In the context of the VOE, I wouldn't frame the City as a "private donor." I'm not sure that any of the three -- gift, donation, loan -- appropriately define the provision of VOE funds to the candidates. If a violation occurs, certainly the City (on behalf of the taxpayers who are picking up the bill) have the right to seek recourse.

I'm all over the place, but I view the City and a private donor as fundamentally different and subject to different sets of rules whether they be civil, contractual, regulatory, etc.

I left out the public policy argument; glad you you saw it. The state court addressed an instance where two private parties gambled on an election outcome and one of them demanded return of his wager. The court noted the public policy argument against such a gamble but allowed the legal demand for return of the wager, provided the demand was made before the election that was the subject of the wager. If one of the parties were also either a candidate or donor/lender the public policy would surely not have less force.

If the Auditor were to demand return of any money from Mr. Branam then Mr. Branam could surely rebut that if he has to give it up then so too must all the participating candidates. This argument would not be incompatible with that of a claimant asserting taxpayer standing -- and demanding return of all the money from all the candidates. (He would have nothing to lose, personally.) The city's statutory obligation is to remain neutral among candidates . . . which is another reason why I suggested the retransfer tactic, to poison the claim of neutrality. That, and to argue that the demand for return is not sufficiently narrowly tailored to survive free speech scrutiny where none of the persons from whom any money is demanded to be returned exceeded the spending limits -- i.e., the proffered public interest to justify the scheme (not to enable nit picking that no private donor would dare dream of doing, overtly). A claim by the city that they are simultaneously a super-donor and not-a-donor-at-all has all the hallmarks of any fancy public-private partnership -- complete nonsense.

Suppose only that a participating candidate simply withdraws. Must they return any monies already spent? (Think Sten, and think again about the loan versus gift dichotomy.) Are they contractually obliged to continue to campaign, and sit in office if elected? Surely Mr. Branam could argue that the Auditor's statutory duty to remain neutral among all candidates, participating or not, is imported like any UCC gap filling provision into the "contract." (Invoking one big can of worms.) There is a statute too that allows someone to refuse, within a limited time after being elected, to assume an office without being charged with failure to show up for meetings and like duties. That is, could Mr. Branam simply quit and repudiate the contract to campaign under the banner of participating candidate and insist that all monies received were a gift? He holds a whole lot of cards he could play, where he could invoke both as-applied and on-its-face challenges to the entire scheme of post-delivery review of any "donation" to any participating candidate. I think Mr. Branam holds the stronger hand.

What does any other "participating" candidate think about whether to demand return of money from Mr. Branam? Pipe up! (Or did Bronze do it for you?)

This does have a Three Musketeers flavor to it.


Unlike Mr. Branam, can we assume you passed the bar exam?

The Auditor's Office indicated that the decision by the Auditor was released at 5 pm to the major news outlets - the Trib, the Oregonian, etc.

Bojack, I know you're done for the week, but you should be able to get your hands on that decision.

Hook it up.


Mr. Tee,

That hits on the story of my life. There were three papers that I took incompletes on when in law school. I seem to rewrite them over and over again . . . in a near-futile quest to try to formulate a clean error-free theory for the particular issues raised in each paper. I am still not satisfied, and the issues are more timely today than before. There once was a time, as when I was 21 and pushing real estate, that I was mystified by fancy words and arguments. It is far less mysterious today . . . precisely because I made a personal effort to demystify it.

I can at least claim to have gone to law school. I would gladly take the bar . . . if for no other reason than to rebut your cheap argument. I would accept 20 grand to make an effort to defeat the nonsense voter owed election scheme. I need only raise my own standing as elector to invoke the applicable state statute. If I were a member of the bar I could instead shop for another elector and make precisely the same argument, but then obtain the 20 grand in fees from the government when I win. But this would have the same sort of ethical taint as that now displayed by Mr. Branam to game both the electoral and tax system. Mr. Branam's knowledge is surely superior to that of the guy who reports that he "was a full-time PhD student in the Systems Science Program at Portland State University for two years[,]" -- as if that is a positive rather than a negative? Gary Blackmer.

I could even ask for double the fee, from the government, in this particular case, in the discretion of the judge. This is a lesson learned from a case that one of my past professors brought on behalf of a particular class. Such a request could be viewed as double the taint, depending upon one's view of that particular game . . . which is a remarkable parallel to the voter owed election scheme. One thing is nearly certain, were I to bring a case and NOT make a demand for legal fees then the government would not likely be foolish enough to try to make a demand that I pay their fees if they win. (The class of classic public interest lawyers, like the participating candidates, would have more to lose than me.) A blog comment is all that I can afford, but that is fine . . . and is not ethically flawed.

I could claim membership in the "Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes" if that would help you decide on the merits of my argument. Bronze at least tried to address the points rather than the class or status of the speaker.


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In Vino Veritas

Lange, Pinot Gris 2015
Kiona, Lemberger 2014
Willamette Valley, Pinot Gris 2015
Aix, Rosé de Provence 2016
Marchigüe, Cabernet 2013
Inazío Irruzola, Getariako Txakolina Rosé 2015
Maso Canali, Pinot Grigio 2015
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Kirkland, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016
Cantele, Salice Salentino Reserva 2013
Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2013
Avissi, Prosecco
Cleto Charli, Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco, Vecchia Modena
Pique Poul, Rosé 2016
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Rosé 2016
Stoller, Pinot Noir Rosé 2016
Chehalem, Inox Chardonnay 2015
The Four Graces, Pinot Gris 2015
Gascón, Colosal Red 2013
Cardwell Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
Della Terra, Anonymus
Willamette Valley, Dijon Clone Chardonnay 2013
Wraith, Cabernet, Eidolon Estate 2012
Januik, Red 2015
Tomassi, Valpolicella, Rafaél, 2014
Sharecropper's Pinot Noir 2013
Helix, Pomatia Red Blend 2013
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2013
Locations, Spanish Red Wine
Locations, Argentinian Red Wine
La Antigua Clásico, Rioja 2011
Shatter, Grenache, Maury 2012
Argyle, Vintage Brut 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16 Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2014
Benton Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
Primarius, Pinot Gris 2015
Januik, Merlot 2013
Napa Cellars, Cabernet 2013
J. Bookwalter, Protagonist 2012
LAN, Rioja Edicion Limitada 2011
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Rutherford 2009
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Marchigüe, Cabernet, Colchagua Valley 2013
Oberon, Cabernet 2014
Hedges, Red Mountain 2012
Balboa, Rose of Grenache 2015
Ontañón, Rioja Reserva 2015
Three Horse Ranch, Pinot Gris 2014
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
Nelms Road, Merlot 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Pinot Gris 2014
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2012
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2013
Villa Maria, Sauvignon Blanc 2015
G3, Cabernet 2013
Chateau Smith, Cabernet, Washington State 2014
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16
Willamette Valley, Rose of Pinot Noir, Whole Clusters 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Ca' del Baio Barbaresco Valgrande 2012
Goodfellow, Reserve Pinot Gris, Clover 2014
Lugana, San Benedetto 2014
Wente, Cabernet, Charles Wetmore 2011
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
King Estate, Pinot Gris 2015
Adelsheim, Pinot Gris 2015
Trader Joe's, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley 2015
La Vite Lucente, Toscana Red 2013
St. Francis, Cabernet, Sonoma 2013
Kendall-Jackson, Pinot Noir, California 2013
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2013
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Abbot's Table, Columbia Valley 2014
Intrinsic, Cabernet 2014
Oyster Bay, Pinot Noir 2010
Occhipinti, SP68 Bianco 2014
Layer Cake, Shiraz 2013
Desert Wind, Ruah 2011
WillaKenzie, Pinot Gris 2014
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Dunham, Trautina 2012
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Stoppa, Emilia, Red 2004
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Marc Maron - Waiting for the Punch
Phil Stanford - Rose City Vice
Kenneth R. Feinberg - What is Life Worth?
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Peter Carey - True History of the Kelly Gang
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Amy Stewart - Girl Waits With Gun
Philip Roth - The Plot Against America
Norm Macdonald - Based on a True Story
Christopher Buckley - Boomsday
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Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
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Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
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Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
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Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
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Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 5
At this date last year: 3
Total run in 2017: 113
In 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
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In 2005: 149
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