A Salem lobbyist has denied sourcing smear stories about Democratic legislators whose interests run contrary to those of the companies she represents. Hasina Squires, a lobbyist for Dutch Pacific Resources, was accused over the weekend by Blue Oregon blogger Carla Axtman of spreading stories about former Tigard state representative Larry Galizio.



Galizio changed his mind at the last minute and voted against an effort by Dutch Pacific to build a resort on the Metolius river, earlier this year. The resort had been approved by local authorities but was opposed by the Governor, Ted Kulongoski. Galizio had originally intended to vote for the resort, but cited concerns from constituents for changing his mind. It turns out, the Governor helped Galizio get a job with the Oregon University system, reports the Oregonian's Harry Esteve, which has "raised eyebrows," because it would certainly provide an extra incentive for Galizio to please the Governor by changing his vote.

Galizio denies any connection between the job and his vote to kill Squires' client's project. But Axtman accused Squires of "feeding" that story to the O and reporter Nick Budnick at the Bend Bulletin this weekend:

It's my belief that Hasina Squires fed the Galizio story to the Oregonian and the Bend Bulletin, if not others...

I've been asking around about Squires. She has a reputation as effective and very ruthless. When I inquired of sources if they thought Squires could be the one feeding the Galizio story to the media, every single person I spoke with said that her involvement would not only be unsurprising, it would make complete sense. Hasina doesn't like to lose and she has built relationships with local reporters. Galizio was the guy that changed his vote and handed Squires the loss. If she can screw with his reputation and maybe his new job, she gets back at him.

Axtman's post has since generated 150 comments, many of which accuse her of stirring the pot without solid evidence:
This is disgraceful. You should have a lot more than this before you post an article impugning a person's integrity. The fact is that a number of Salem insiders HAVE raised eyebrows about Galizio's switch. I know because I work there and have had a number of these discussions. Personally, I believe Larry changed his vote for the reasons you state. But it remains true that many people have openly speculated about a connection between his vote and his new job, if only to say that they doubt there really was a quid pro quo. Esteve could have learned that from any number of people.

Tricky. This morning, Axtman posted another blog entitled "You Can Stand Me Up At The Gates Of Hell..." in which she reiterated her commitment to her opinion about Squires.

The story interested me because on a blog, you can say pretty much anything you like and state it as an opinion. But I did wonder a.Whether it would have been so bad if Squires had "fed" that story to the press in the first place, after all, the Galizio vote-changing angle is interesting, and b.What Squires thought of the allegations.

"I only read legitimate news," says Squires. "I really don't read blogs. A blog is a blog, and that's not news."

"If you are asking me whether I talked to Harry Esteve or Nick Budnick on this story, the answer to both questions is no, I did not," she continues. "I'm not refuting anything that Carla Axtman has to say, but I'm talking to a legitimate news source, despite what many people may have to say about the Portland Mercury."

She also denied emailing, or communicating with those reporters in any other way, shape, or form about this story. I told Squires I would blog about her response on blogtown.portlandmercury.com, a legitimate news source.

"I won't read it," she said. "But you are calling from a newspaper."

Glad we got that cleared up. Axtman is yet to return a call seeking comment.