AN ANTI-TAX CAMPAIGN letter that Oregonians Against Job-Killing Taxes recently mailed out to 950,000 voters brought a nasty backlash last week to the family farmer held up in the letter as an anti-tax poster child.
"Milk prices are plunging and it's harder than ever to keep our business afloat," reads the emotional form letter from dairy farmer Carol Marie Leuthold, who asks voters to reject Measures 66 and 67 during this January's special election. The two measures increase taxes on corporations and Oregonians making over $125,000, which, Leuthold writes, will force small businesses to lay off workers.
But tax proponents jumped on Leuthold's claims, spilling to media that the supposedly struggling family traveled extensively last year: Leuthold took cooking classes in the South of France and her husband went on safari in South Africa.
Politico Steve Novick went even further, posting a snapshot on political blog Blue Oregon of 15 rather different signatures penned above Leuthold's name on the letter. "The letters were hand-signed to look authentic, but all in different handwriting," Novick wrote.
Hours after Novick tore into Leuthold's letter, a farmer-of-the-month profile of the anti-tax dairy farmer disappeared from the Tillamook County Creamery Association website—at Leuthold's request.
"She had contacted us and said her family had some concerns about [the profile] being up, because the measures are such an emotional issue," explains Tillamook spokesperson Heidi Luquette. Leuthold did not elaborate to Tillamook what her "concerns" were, but the profile contained details about the farming couple's world travels.
Spokesman for the Oregonians Against Job-Killing Taxes campaign Pat McCormick says the criticisms of Leuthold's letter are "mean spirited."
"She expressed her personal opinion, we helped her express her opinion," says McCormick, who adds it's unrealistic to assume Leuthold would have signed all 950,000 letters herself. Instead, the farmer and a crew of paid campaign workers signed the stacks of letters in a Salem warehouse, says McCormick.
The anti-tax group has spent more than $1.8 million so far on its anti-Measures 66 and 67 campaign, six times the amount of the tax supporters.