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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Familiar Territory for Charlie Hales' Spokesman: An Election Law Violation

Posted by Dirk VanderHart on Thu, Jul 10, 2014 at 3:33 PM

For the second time in five years, mayoral spokesman Dana Haynes has been found in violation of state rules limiting how public employees may talk about upcoming elections.

After nearly five months, Secretary of State Kate Brown's office informed Haynes today he'd broken the rules when he wrote a February press release calling a proposed water and sewer board's backers "anti-environmental" and insinuating they wanted to kill the city's green programs. Those comments were actually attributed, in the release, to Mayor Charlie Hales, but Haynes told investigators they were his inventions.

From the letter informing Haynes of the finding:

Screen_Shot_2014-07-10_at_3.07.34_PM.png

The Portland Tribune was first to report the findings.

The law Haynes violated is flouted with little risk. The Secretary of State may issue fines of up to $250, but rarely goes even that far. The recommended penalty in this case is $150, and it's only that steep due to the fact that Haynes had been found in violation back in 2009, when he worked as a spokesperson for Portland Community College.

In that incident [pdf], Haynes wrote a blog post on the PCC website that the state found improperly pimped an upcoming $374 million bond measure, saying things like: "We’ve said, over and over again, that a $374 million bond measure comes out to only 32.9 cents per $1,000 assessed value. That’s not much. That’s about $8 bucks per month, which is less than you pay for a pizza. Not a good pizza, either.”

Haynes was fined $75 for the post, and his boss was fined $100. He has not returned a call for comment.

Meanwhile, the secretary of state's office found there was insufficient evidence in a similar complaint against another mayoral staffer, Policy Director Josh Alpert. Both complaints were filed by the chief backers of the proposed Portland Public Water District, which suffered a bruising defeat on the May 20 primary ballot.

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