For ramming through the “universal background check” bill in last year’s state House, Oregon state representative Val Hoyle received a handsome payout of $250,000 from Michael Bloomberg. Personally. Not his Everytown For Gun Safety Action Fund mega PAC, but Bloomberg himself is credited with the contribution.
For a man whose net worth Forbes pegs at $44 billion, a $250,000 check is barely pocket change, but Bloomberg’s check is largest to any candidate in any Oregon race this cycle.
Howard Wolfson, a spokesman for Bloomberg, says the former mayor is going to bat for Hoyle because of her role in passing a 2015 gun bill. Hoyle then served as House majority leader and was the person responsible for rounding up enough votes to pass legislation in the House.
“Mike is supporting Val Hoyle because her leadership in passing Oregon’s background check bill is truly notable,” Wolfson tells WW in an email. “No one in the country has worked harder —or more successfully—to take on the NRA than she has.“
Hoyle *was* looking to move up the food chain from House Majority Leader to Secretary Of State, and faced 2 opponents in the democrat primary; Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian and state Senator Richard Devlin. The race looked to be tight all season long, but come election day, the Oregon DEMOCRATS sent Hoyle packing, giving the nod to Avakian with a 40%-32% lead, with Devlin picking up 27%.
The biggest contribution Avakian received this cycle was $20,000, and Devlin’s was $10,000.
In 2015, Hoyle had to route the “universal background check” bill through her own Rules Committee, fearing that it wouldn’t garner enough votes from her fellow dems in the Judiciary Committee, where gun related bills would normally go. Now we know why. She had to serve Bloomberg, knowing that a huge payout was waiting, not just for her, but for other House Democrat campaigns. The universal background check bill, SB941, eventually passed the House on a vote of 32-28, with 3 of her democrats defecting and voting against it.
After the big payday came, she, and other pundits, assumed she’d waltz to victory in the Democrat primary for Secretary of State. But the actual democrat voters had different ideas, instead sending a guy who wants to arbitrarily expand the role of Secretary of State well beyond its intended means.
Avakian is pledging to protect Oregonians from fraud, add civics classes to the curriculum for Oregon’s schools, ensure equal pay for women, champion promising candidates, rally for worthy causes and, while he’s at it, combat climate change. Considering his wide-ranging plan, we would not be surprised if Avakian were to trumpet a three-point plan for winning the war on terror as well.
It’s worth revisiting what the secretary of state does. The person holding the position, which is established in the state Constitution and further defined in Oregon statutes, serves as the state’s chief elections officer, state archivist and auditor of public spending. The secretary of state’s seven divisions are tasked with impartially and fairly interpreting and applying election law, auditing agencies to improve government efficiency, providing regulatory information to businesses and overseeing other duties in the public interest. The secretary also redraws legislative districts if the state Legislature cannot reach agreement.
Unfortunately, the activist job description that Avakian, currently labor commissioner, is selling to voters is fundamentally mismatched with the position that he seeks. That mismatch is further highlighted by the endorsements of organizations that are pushing his candidacy, even though the secretary of state’s core functions don’t have anything to do with their own missions. Avakian’s determination to secure and broadcast support from such groups suggests a campaign strategy based less on how faithfully he’d do the job than on how effectively he’d use it to deliver to the faithful.
Another of Avakian’s ideas: to use the secretary of state’s audit division, which conducts financial and performance evaluations of state programs, to dive into the workings of private companies that receive public contracts. Such audits, he said, could reveal whether private companies are violating wage-and-hour laws or are compensating women inequitably.
But the responsibility for investigating wage-and-hour violations and other possible misconduct by companies already belongs to the Bureau of Labor and Industries, the agency that Avakian currently heads as the labor commissioner. There’s little need for the secretary of state’s office to step in, especially when doing so could take resources away from auditing how state agencies are using public funds, a more critical part of the office’s mission. And it’s not even clear if the secretary of state’s office has the authority that Avakian envisions. He said that if laws need to be changed to allow that, “then we ought to change the law.”
This is the same state labor commissioner who oversaw the Sweet Cakes By Melissa debacle that continues to grab national headlines, where the bakery refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple, and was eventually fined $135,000 by Avakian’s agency.
This is the guy whom the democrats chose over Bloomberg’s sweetheart, Val Hoyle.
Bloomberg has had a rocky path to victories in the Beaver State. Of his previous campaign benefactors, Governor John Kitzhaber resigned in disgrace after a big ethics scandal, state Senator Chuck Riley took heat for saying the Supreme Court was “right for the time” for upholding slavery in the 1800’s, and the open primary ballot initiative, Measure 90, went down in flames, even after Bloomberg tossed in over $2 Million to support it.
As if this weren’t enough, the extra ironic part is that Hoyle herself has been a big a megaphone for getting big money out of politics!
The Willamette Week story continued with:
There is some irony in the big check, however. Like her opponents, Hoyle has pledged to rein in Oregon’s unlimited campaign finance spending, saying if elected to the office that oversees elections, she’ll “get big money out of politics.“
“Val is committed to reducing the influence of money in campaigns and empowering the voices of everyday Oregonians,” she writes on her campaign website.
Cody Chasteen, Hoyle’s campaign manager, says Hoyle’s acceptance of big out-of-state checks is a recognition of how things are, rather than how she’d like them to be.
Hoyle had also received a $10,000 check from Gabby Giffords’ Americans For Responsible Solutions, another out of state gun control lobby. She brazenly boasted about how she took on the NRA, perhaps in an attempt to get even more money from these special interest PACs. Her loss should be heeded as a warning to all gun control groups and democrats who may be associated with such. Not even the democrat voters are buying what you’re selling.
UPDATE! Hoyle has sent out a concession email to everyone on her mailing list:
I want to thank you for your support throughout this campaign to become Oregon’s next Secretary of State. Although we didn’t win, I am extremely proud of the race that we ran and of my team. This has been a long, tough campaign, but I wouldn’t have traded a minute of it. In the last 10 months, I’ve traveled 27,000 miles and met people all across our state. They welcomed me and my family into their homes and their lives. I’ll never forget their stories.
I want to congratulate our Democratic nominee, Brad Avakian and I called him last night to offer him my support and endorsement. I want to thank my colleague Richard Devlin for running a spirited campaign.
I want to thank the thousands of people who voted for me in every county of this state and all those who donated their time, talents and money to this campaign. Your optimism and energy is what drove me forward and brought us close to an upset in this race.
I’m inspired by the many young people across this state who were engaged in politics for the first time by our campaign. Your commitment to fighting to expand voting rights will make our state and our country stronger in the years ahead.
This morning when I woke up I felt proud. Proud of the race that we ran, proud of the support that I received on the way and excited about the possibilities ahead. Going forward I’m going to do what I’ve always done: stand up for a better future for my community and this state. Between now and November do everything I can to support Ron Wyden, Kate Brown, Brad Avakian, Ellen Rosenblum and the rest of our Democratic ticket. I hope I’ll see many of you out on the campaign trail again this fall.
Please accept my deepest thanks for your friendship and support. It means the world me to me and my family.
All the best,