The state's elections division will fine County Commissioner Loretta Smith $250 after determining she skirted a campaign finance law while raising money for her campaign for a Portland City Council seat.
The state determined that Smith improperly failed to update her candidate committee by not indicating she's running for city council. Her committee, from which she's accepting thousands in campaign contributions, said she's running for county commissioner despite that she's ineligible to do so again because of term limits. She announced her campaign for city council in September. State law requires she update her committee within 10 days of any change.
As we reported recently, Smith not updating her candidate committee to reflect her city council run probably wasn't a slip up. County rules dictate that, until her final year of office (which starts January 1), she's not she's not allowed to run for another elected office without resigning first. Here's what we reported in November:
The two-term Multnomah County commissioner announced last month she’ll be running for Commissioner Dan Saltzman’s seat in the May primary. Smith has campaign logos and slogans on her Facebook page, and a website: lorettaforportland.com. Her candidate committee is raking in thousands of dollars in contributions from deep-pocketed developers. She’s got a campaign staff.
But to hear Smith’s campaign consultant tell it, she is not currently running for city council.
“She’s indicated she intends to run for Portland City Council,” consultant Jake Weigler told the Mercury last week. “She has not formally filed for office.”
Weigler—and Smith, who referred all questions to him—have reason to be cautious. Under Multnomah County rules, Smith would need to give up her current position if she begins a formal run for City Council before January.
If Smith's candidate committee correctly indicated she's running for Portland City Council, it would severely hinder her claim that she's not technically running yet despite that she's raising money for it.
Seth Woolley, the state secretary of the Pacific Green Party and longtime advocate for stricter campaign finance laws, filed complaints against Smith late last month. The state sided with him on at least one of them.
"There is sufficient evidence to find that there has been a violation of ORS 260.039(4) because Ms. Smith failed to amend her candidate’s statement of organization 10 days after a change in information," today's letter from the state's elections division says, "in this case she was, at the very latest, required to amend her candidate statement of organization to reflect the May 2018 Election and the office of Portland City Commissioner #3 by September 22, 2017. The Elections Division will issue a notice of proposed civil penalty of $250 to Ms. Smith in approximately two weeks."
Smith campaign committee, as of today, still doesn't say she's running for city council.
Read our previous coverage: of this issue:
•November 1: "Loretta Smith is Raking in Cash for a City Council Run"
Jef Green, the treasurer for the Committee to Elect Loretta Smith, said the committee "takes full responsibility for this error":
As is common practice by many elected officials, we believed that we could wait to update the purpose of Loretta Smith’s PAC until she had made a final decision to run and formally filed for the office. To this end, we provided this advice to our client and take full responsibility for this error.
Jef Green, Treasurer
Committee to Elect Loretta Smith
Green refused to talk when the Mercury brought up these issues to him weeks ago for our November story.