For weeks, questions have been raised over Basic Rights Oregon's refusal to give Ted Wheeler, a candidate for Multnomah County chair, a "green light"—a signal that's short of an endorsement, but tells Basic Rights Oregon (BRO) supporters that the candidate stands for GLBT rights.
BRO's Equality Political Action Committee (PAC) gave its full endorsement to incumbent Chair Diane Linn—not surprising given Linn's decision to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. But Wheeler supporters have felt that the organization's failure to green light him was unfair given his vocal support of GLBT rights and financial contributions to the Cascade AIDS Project.
Then, on Tuesday, May 9, the "BRO Watch" blog (browatch.blogspot.com), run by anonymous activists who are critical of many of BRO's decisions, pointed out a nugget of information that had been so-far unpublicized: Linn's campaign manager, Alisa Simmons, is the chair of the Equality PAC's endorsement board—the same board that made the decision to endorse Linn and not green light Wheeler.
Simmons, though, adamantly denies that there was any conflict of interest.
"Not only did I abstain, but I wasn't even in the room for the discussion," Simmons told the Mercury. "I wasn't there for any discussion involving Diane Linn or Ted Wheeler, nor was I included in any of the emails."
During the endorsement process, Wheeler's campaign was given the same assurances.
"I don't see how anybody could think this was a conflict of interest," Simmons continued.
And yet, nowhere on BRO's voters' guide (voteequality.com) is there a disclaimer stating that Simmons abstained from the endorsement of a candidate for whom she works. After being asked about the lack of such a disclaimer, Simmons agreed that it's feasible that someone could jump to the conclusion that there was a conflict of interest.