UPDATE: A source in the Smith campaign says the PPA is no longer endorsing Jefferson Smith. The decision was delivered after this post—in which the union was still supporting Smith—went up, I'm told. I need to check with the PPA to get their side of the decision.
UPDATE 2:30 PM: It's not just the cops. It's also the firefighters. The PPA has put up a short statement on its website announcing the mutual decision. It doesn't reference the assault story—the elephant in the room. Or anything concrete. I've left messages with the Portland Fire Fighters Association's vice president and with Turner, but haven't heard back yet.
Today, the Portland Police Association and Portland Fire Fighters Association have withdrawn our endorsements of Portland Mayoral candidate Jefferson Smith. Our members count on us to make recommendations and, at this point in the campaign, we cannot make a strong recommendation for either candidate.
UPDATE 3:20 PM: Turner got back to me but wouldn't say anything beyond the one-paragraph statement, which doesn't actually explain why the unions backed off. One could infer it's the assault citation and its fallout—coming after all the other revelations like Smith's awful driving record. But Turner wouldn't confirm that. Maybe it was Smith's statement in support of the mayor's decision to challenge the reinstatement of Ron Frashour? Turner wouldn't confirm that.
"That's our comment," he insisted. "That's our press release."
UPDATE 4:40 PM: The O is reporting on statements from the PFFA and from Hales. First, the firefighters:
As you have likely seen unfolding in the press recently, there have been numerous events in Mr. Smith’s personal life that raise serious questions about his integrity, honesty, and fitness for office. To be clear, we support Mr. Smith’s platform, and were we looking solely at candidates’ positions on fire fighter issues, the endorsement would stand.
In this situation, however, the candidate’s character clearly runs counter to our values. Quite simply, we do not take lightly the respect we all share as fire fighters in this community and cannot stand alongside someone with questionable ethics and decision-making skills.
And then Hales:
I think what they have done speaks for itself. The police and fire associations have seen what we've all seen over the past few weeks and were disturbed enough about it to take some action.
Original post below the cut:
There's an awkward side-note to the ongoing story about the 1993 college party where mayoral candidate Jefferson Smith was cited for assault after hitting a woman in the face hard enough for her to need stitches—and the woman's accusation that Smith lied during his initial public comments about the incident.
Smith has the backing of one of the state's largest law enforcement labor organizations: the Portland Police Association, which represents nearly 1,000 cops. Those cops, incidentally, work for a bureau that's made combating violence against women one of its priorities. And law enforcement, obviously, is a community that's kinder to those perceived as victims than to those perceived as assailants. So is the PPA rethinking its support, in light of the latest revelations?
"No, not at all at this point," Daryl Turner, president of the Portland Police Association, told me this week, acknowledging that, as of Tuesday, he hadn't "looked at the police report" released by the woman Smith hit. "We stand behind our endorsement."
Smith's campaign manager, Henry Kraemer, says Turner called him soon after he spoke to me, and that nothing's changed.
Other groups close to domestic violence issues have certainly had some heartburn over the issue. As the Oregonian reported this morning, another of Smith's endorsers, The Mother PAC, is maintaining its support. But it said it was "disappointed" and will "be in conversations about what [its support] looks like going forward."
The PPA's pick, made in concert with the firefighters union (which doesn't much like Smiths' rival, Charlie Hales), has always been mostly about which candidate will be better to do business with on economic issues—overtime, comp time, staffing, pay hikes, etc.—in the union's contract. Turner says, reflecting on the assault reports, "As a labor organization, we look at everything."
He also suggested he'd give Smith—who says he doesn't remember, as the woman he hit claims, pressuring her for sex before the scuffle—the benefit of the doubt.
"We look at both sides of a story," Turner says. "There's always two sides, and there's always more to those stories."
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