Former state employee Joe Colello was sentenced Tuesday to five years in federal prison for money laundering and defrauding the Internal Revenue Service for his role in a bribery scheme related to the sale of state tax credits. He was also ordered to pay $81,000 in restitution. Colello admitted last summer that he accepted $300,000 in kickbacks from a Seattle-based energy consultant, Martin Shain, in exchange for arranging the sale of state energy tax credits that investigators say netted Shain some $1.3 million in commissions.
Oregon Public Broadcasting
Right, That’s How Taxes Work, But What Does The TCJA Do? The TCJA lowers the tax rate for most people.
Oregon Public Broadcasting
Supporters on Monday filed an initiative that would require gun owners in Oregon keep their weapons locked up when not in use. Gun owners could also face greater legal liability if they did not secure their weapons and they were used to injure or kill someone.
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, 17 other state attorneys general and six cities filed suit Tuesday to block a citizenship question on the 2020 Census. The state attorneys general are concerned the question will discourage immigrants from participating. Rosenblum joined New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in New York City to announce the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
With no immediate resolution to DACA, states such as Oregon are intervening to provide a pathway for dreamers to move forward with their lives amid federal uncertainty. That can range from giving dreamers access to in-state college tuition to allowing them to obtain professional licensure.
George Soros, one of the world’s best-known investors, has invested in the re-election campaign of Gov. Kate Brown. Soros, 87, made a fortune of nearly $25 billion with well-timed bets on currencies, commodities and stocks before giving most of his money away last year. He’s long been active in political and social issues around the world through his Open Societies Foundation. In this country, he’s been a major funder of Democratic candidates and causes. His $25,000 contribution to Brown appears to be Soros’ first direct involvement in an Oregon race since the state began keeping electronic contribution records in 2006. Brown, a Democrat, has now raised $989,000 in 2018 and has $3.48 million on hand. Her likely opponent in the November general election, state Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend), has raised $750,000 this year and has $1.96 million on hand.
Being the consensus front-runner in any campaign makes you a target, a lesson state Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, has been reminded of more than once in recent weeks. Running as a moderate, he has been hammered on the left by Gov. Kate Brown’s re-election campaign, and this week the AFL-CIO launched a website dedicated to hitting Buehler as anti-labor. Meanwhile, challengers to his right say he isn’t conservative enough to be the GOP standard-bearer. The unfriendly fire has spread to his former campaign spokesman and some regional Republican leaders.
One of those Republicans is GOP governor hopeful and “Make Oregon Great Again” candidate Sam Carpenter, who began Tweeting his criticism of Buehler early in March, coining the #NoShowKnute mini-movement in the process. Carpenter sells himself to Republican primary voters as the only real “pro Trump” candidate and he has received the endorsement of the group Oregon Women for Trump. Many voters might remember Carpenter from his unsuccessful U.S. Senate bid in 2016.
In the general election, Brown will be attacked as a weak leader who has presided over state agency foul-ups and resulted in a fairly high turnover rate of agency leaders. Brown will cite her leadership in a major transportation funding measure, a hike in the state minimum wage and create of a state-sponsored retirement savings plan. Buehler probably will need to dig into his campaign fund to raise his visibility before the primary, while Brown probably will hold off any major media outreach until the general election campaign is underway. She has the luxury of using the next few months to bolster her $3.2 million campaign bank account. That means for now, Oregonians can enjoy the relative quietude of the gubernatorial race. It promises to get a lot noisier and nastier.
The town hall also opened up a discussion about LGBTQ rights nationally, as President Trump released an order last Friday banning most transgender people from serving in the military. “Every time they take something away, the states are going to have to step up and fill in the gap,” said House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland. She also said individuals could stand up to end discrimination themselves by speaking with their dollars and supporting LGBT-friendly companies.
Mitchell is a case management coordinator for the state Department of Human Services who moved to Oregon from Utah in 2015 with her husband, who works for Pacific Power. She is an organizer with progressive activist group Indivisible North Coast Oregon and has focused her campaign on broader social policies such as affordable housing, health care, reproductive health, stable education funding and equal pay. She has received endorsements from a variety of labor, education, women’s and conservation groups.
“Establishing clear standards for responsible firearm storage will save lives,” said Jenna Yuille, a chief petitioner whose mother, Cindy Yuille, was killed at the Clackamas Town Center in 2012. Another chief petitioner, Paul Kemp, lost his brother-in-law Steve Forsyth in the random attack at the mall near Portland by a gunman who then committed suicide.
“Today marks a critical step to reducing gun violence in Oregon,” Gun Owners for Responsible Ownership PAC leader Jenna Yuille said in a statement announcing the measure. “Establishing clear standards for responsible firearm storage will save lives. Unsafely stored firearms pose an immediate danger. People who gain unintended access often cause harm to themselves and others.”
Two relatives of people killed in the 2012 Clackamas Town Center shooting filed a proposed ballot initiative Monday that would establish wide-ranging requirements for gun owners, from how guns must be stored to making gun owners liable for injuries caused with their firearms. Their initiative is the second gun-related measure that could appear on Oregon’s November 2018 ballot if backers gather enough valid signatures. Backers will have to gather more than 88,000 voter signatures to put the question on the ballot this fall.
Brown joined the governors of Washington and California in criticizing the decision. They say the tough standards are needed to protect air quality and combat climate change.California leads a consortium of 13 states, including Oregon and Washington, that can set emission standards higher than the national requirements. California officials say they will take legal action if the administration forces them to back off their goal of an auto fleet averaging 50 miles per gallon.
Oregon Public Broadcasting
The federal government will have to spill more water over Columbia and Snake river dams starting Tuesday in an effort to help young salmon migrating to the ocean. This will make up the biggest planned water spill over dams for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Oregon Treasurer Tobias Read and several of his colleagues have asked to meet with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions about what they say is a lack of guidelines for financial institutions in states where marijuana is legal. In January, Sessions rescinded the “Cole Memos,” previous DOJ notices that not only provided guidance to law enforcement in states where marijuana had been legalized, but also formed the basis of some preliminary guideposts for banks and credit unions that wanted to serve cannabis businesses.
But let’s take note of this as well: State budget writers have more revenue than ever before at their disposal, and that seems likely to be the case again in 2019. Even with this record amount of tax money on hand, however, it never seems to be enough. At some point, state officials need to take serious steps to rein in the explosive growth of state spending.
Rep. Julie Parrish
Whether people agree with the premise behind the congressional tax cuts, Oregon businesses shouldn’t bear the brunt of disconnecting from the federal tax code and having the bureaucratic burden of having to keep two sets of tax data. These businesses have seen their incomes stagnant due to increased mandates, higher business fees and new taxes. When people campaign on supporting small business, they should back it up with actions. Gov. Brown should join the four Democratic lawmakers who said “no” to SB 1528 and veto the bill by April 13.
Oregonians are no doubt ready to let Kitzhaber recede into state history. But the case leaves a useful residue: The ethics commission has shown that it can bite. Public officials across the state have been reminded that the state’s ethics laws and rules have meaning, and that violations have consequences.