By Marina Starleaf Riker

The Bulletin

With Election Day less than a month away, some local political action committees have donated more money than ever before to their favorite candidates for Bend City Council.

Four council positions will be up for election on the Nov. 8 ballot. They are currently held by Mayor Jim Clinton, Sally Russell, Doug Knight and Victor Chudowsky. Russell and Knight have filed for re-election, while Chudowsky and Clinton have not.

State campaign finance data show this year’s election is the most expensive ever for at least two of Bend’s most active political action committees — the Central Oregon Association of Realtors and the Bend Chamber of Commerce. The groups have contributed thousands of dollars to candidates who, if elected, will receive a $200-per-month stipend during their four-year terms.

So far, five of the seven candidates in these races have reported campaign fundraising and spending details to the state, while two others — Ronald “Rondo” Boozell and Bruce Abernethy — haven’t reported anything. Abernethy is running unopposed for Clinton’s seat.

So far, Bill Moseley, owner and founder of GL Solutions, has received more donations than any other candidate — about $68,000 cash in the race for position 2 against Knight. Justin Livingston, who’s running against Boozell for position 1, has received the next highest amount, with about $31,000 in cash donations alone. The other candidates have raised up to $9,000.

The amount of money contributed in this election exceeds sums contributed in previous years. In 2012, for example, Chudowsky raised more than any other candidate by collecting about $13,000. That is nearly $50,000 less than Moseley’s campaign has raised so far.

Kim Gammond, a spokeswoman for the Central Oregon Association of Realtors, said the donation levels are directly related to the frustration in the business community with some of the current city councilors. This year, Gammond’s organization has contributed about $30,000 to Moseley, $15,000 to Livingston and $2,000 to Russell’s campaign. In 2014, the PAC contributed only $15,000, which was split among three candidates.

“This is not about COAR pushing an agenda,” said Gammond. “In fact it’s more about the current council pushing their personal priorities onto the citizens of Bend.”

Gammond said some councilors’ interests haven’t been in line with those in the rest of the community. For example, Gammond said some residents were against the City Council’s pulling its membership from the Bend Chamber, spending time on the climate change resolution without first involving the business community and holding an expensive special election for a proposed 5-cent gas tax.

“Their pursuit of special interest, activist agendas has caused the council to stray from its focus on infrastructure, managing growth and public safety,” Gammond said.

Sandy Stephenson, chief operating officer for the Bend Chamber, said this was the largest amount its political action committee had ever donated to candidates in a single election. The Bend Chamber PAC has donated about $20,000 to Moseley and $10,000 to Livingston.

In a news release, the Bend Chamber PAC said its goal is to support a business-friendly economic climate and identify candidates who are business savvy.

State campaign finance data show four candidates have received donations from sources ranging from local businesses to family members. While some have raised a few hundred dollars, others have collected thousands in hopes of gaining Bend residents’ votes.

In cash contributions alone, Moseley’s campaign, the Committee for Bend Leadership, has received more than $68,000 in cash — not including in-kind donations — with the largest donors being the Bend Chamber PAC, the Realtors PAC and his company. He’s also received more than $10,000 in in-kind contributions from groups ranging from Deschutes Brewery and Central Oregon Small Business PAC.

Meanwhile, Moseley’s campaign has spent about $21,000 cash, with about $11,000 so far going to Insite LGA Corp, a Bend consulting firm.

His opponent, Knight, has received less than $700 in cash donations. Knight himself has loaned $10,000 to his committee, Doug Knight 2016, and has spent about $3,300 on signs and marketing.

In the race for position 1, Livingston, a real estate broker, has received about $31,000 in cash donations, with the top donors being Central Oregon Association of Realtors PAC, Central Oregon Small Business PAC and the Bend Chamber PAC. His campaign has spent more than $13,000, with most also going to Insite LGA Corp. Livingston has received a little over $2,000 in in-kind donations.

The race for position 3 has been much less expensive than the other two contested races. Sally Russell has received about $9,000 in cash donations, with the largest donors being Central Oregon Association of Realtors PAC, Bend-based Varenna Capital and Louis Capozzi. She’s spent slightly less than $3,000, the bulk of which has gone to printing and marketing.

Her opponent, Wade Fagen of Fagen Tree Service & Wood Chips, has spent more than $1,000, mostly on catering.

­— Reporter: 541-633-2160, mriker@bendbulletin.com

For complete election coverage, visit www.bendbulletin.com/elections

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