Months after the Mercury caught the Portland Business Alliance failing to report lobbying correspondence with Mayor Charlie Hales' office, the group has earned a mild-but-serious rebuke from the city auditor's office after getting caught in a fresh lapse.
City Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade chided the downtown business association in a letter (pdf) dated May 13—after the city's lobbying program czar, Deborah Scroggin, noticed the group had failed to report a March 28 meeting with Portland Development Commission boss Patrick Quinton. That meeting should have been in the PBA's most recent disclosure report, which was made public this month.
The letter, first reported by the Oregonian today, also mentions two missing emails flagged by the Mercury from the third quarter of 2013, one on sidewalk enforcement and another on Right 2 Dream Too. The Mercury had obtained both in separate records requests and contacted Scroggin after noticing the emails hadn't been included in the PBA's quarterly report.
Scroggin says the missing emails prompted her to begin taking a closer look at the PBA's lobbying reports. that closer look (pdf) helped unearth the latest lapse, and, as such, the letter to the PBA.
"There had been a couple of violations, and we needed to let them know about that," Scroggin told me. "It was kind of a culmination."
Emails (pdf) obtained by the Mercury also show a few more omissions in the recent PBA report. The PBA initially failed to report two meetings with Police Chief Mike Reese, but fixed them within an allowed period for amendments.
Lobbying groups who spend more than eight hours in a three-month period lobbying city hall are supposed to report all of their contacts—and could face fines if they don't.
The O talked to Sandra McDonough, head of the PBA. She insisted the group is "very scrupulous" and that the mistakes were just that. Mistakes.