One of those campaigns—for state ballot Measure 99—recently sent an email to the club's members to influence a vote on whether to endorse or oppose the ballot item. Measure 99 would create funding for statewide "outdoor schools," and is at particular risk of being opposed by the City Club, after robust support for a "no" vote at the club's "Ballot Palooza" event last week.
Here's a snippet of an email City Club member and Audubon Society of Portland Executive Director Nick Hardigg sent out yesterday:
I’m writing to you today as a fellow Portland City Club member to ask for your support of Measure 99 – Outdoor School for All.
Originally the Ballot Measure Research Committee recommended a YES vote on Measure 99. Unfortunately, members at the meeting this past Wednesday were split and those favoring a NO endorsement won. Now it is up to us to reverse that decision so that City Club will not advocate against Outdoor School and Measure 99.
Hardigg then launches into a sales pitch, and urges members to vote in support of the measure in an online vote.
This type of mass lobbying is not the way the process is designed to work—and the club's membership roster is supposed to be shielded from being shared. City Club bylaws include a provision that states "use of the membership list is limited solely to facilitate the conduct of Club business."
The club's executive director, Mike Marshall, responded promptly after the Mercury inquired about the recent email.
"We did NOT share our list with anyone," Marshall said. "Due to a technology glitch we were not aware of, one of our members was able to download, one letter at a time, a list of all our members from our club directory. They gave that list to one of the campaigns which then compared it to the voter file and were able to generate a list with emails and phone numbers. It was then shared with two other campaigns as near as we can tell."
Marshall continued, saying, "this has never happened before." The club is temporarily removing access to its membership directory, Marshall said. The "glitch" he referred to allowed members to search the directory for all names beginning with a certain letter, simply by typing that letter.
"We are looking into who actually created the list and will possibly take action against them, and we are demanding the campaigns delete the City Club membership list from their databases," Marshall said. It's possible whoever collated the membership list could be kicked out of the club. Marshall did not specify which campaigns had the information.
The City Club's board of governors is planning to meet on Thursday to discuss the issue, Marshall said.
Update, 5 pm: It's not hard to figure out who collected the club's members onto one list: Hardigg is happy to admit he did it himself. After the City Club membership appeared to turn against Measure 99 at the recent event, Hardigg suggested to the campaign that he could email a plea.
"I'm a member, I’ve got a membership directory—let's send a message out," he says. "I’d never heard of this being inappropriate."
Hardigg says he's not aware of the list he created being shared with other campaigns.
Original post: His is the only email the Mercury's confirmed went out to City Club members, though there is rumor of calls being placed from other ballot measure campaigns.
"As far as I know, we're not calling anybody," says Peter Zuckerman, a spokesperson for Measure 98, which hopes to expand vocational and technical education in Oregon. Zuckerman, himself a City Club member, confirmed receiving the email about Measure 99.
Representatives of other campaigns the Mercury reached out to have yet to call us back.