Gary A. Warner
The Bulletin

SALEM — Campaign fundraising between campaigns, an “aloha” to the dean of the House who created a tropical-themed tradition, and some politically oriented newspaper news are among the news and tidbits this week out of the Capitol:

Brown keeps fundraising despite term limits

Gov. Kate Brown’s campaign committee has raised $355,000 since the beginning of the year, even though she is barred from seeking reelection in 2022 because of term limits. As first reported by The Oregonian, most of the $800,000 Brown has in her political action committee was rolled over from her successful 2018 bid for governor. Since January, she’s spent $460,000, according to the secretary of state’s campaign finance website.

The Oregonian also reported Brown’s schedule showed 50 hours since the beginning of the year on what staff said was “campaign” time or “personal political activity.”

Thomas Wheatley, an adviser for Brown’s committee said the money was raised and spent primarily to help Brown promote two ballot measures: a constitutional amendment to allow for limits on campaign contributions, and a cigarette tax.

Helt updates fundraising effort

Cheri Helt, the first-year Republican House member from Bend, said at the end of the 2019 session of the Legislature that she plans on running for reelection next year.

Fundraising messages on her behalf have already been sent out by her predecessor, Knute Buehler, who was also the unsuccessful 2018 Republican candidate for governor. Helt took a small but important step toward confirming her intention to mount a campaign last week when she updated the status of her fundraising committee formed for her 2018 bid to one now officially aimed at 2020.

Helt raised more than $29,000 in the month in January, just before the legislative session began. House members cannot raise funds during the session, which lasted 160 days, until June. 30. Candidates currently have 30 days to report campaign contributions, so Helt so far has reported negligible activity with the secretary of state. The ban on fundraising during legislative sessions is a self-imposed rule of the House. The Senate allows its members to raise funds during sessions.

‘Aloha’ to the man from Aloha

The longest-serving current member of the House, and the creator of one of the lighter traditions of the chamber, will be leaving Salem. Rep. Jeff Barker, D-Aloha, first elected in 2002 announced Saturday he won’t run for another term.

As representative from the Washington County community of Aloha, Barker is credited with starting “Aloha Fridays” in the House near the end of each session. The Legislature rarely meets on Fridays, but the backlog of bills usually requires that House convene all five weekdays during the final weeks. Barker began to wear a Hawaiian-style “Aloha shirt.” “It was a way to remind everybody we should be on vacation,” Barker told the Portland Tribune in 2017.

Other lawmakers from both parties and chambers have since joined in. A final quirk: Locals don’t pronounce the place in Oregon named Aloha like the Hawaiian word, “aloha.” In Washington County, the “h” is silent, sounding more like “aloa.”

Newspaper news

The Bulletin isn’t the only daily newspaper in Oregon that will have new owners. GateHouse Media announced Monday it has purchased Gannett, best known as the publisher of the USA Today national newspaper, for $1.4 billion. The deal will affect Oregon politics, as the state capital’s longtime newspaper, the Salem Statesman Journal, is owned by Gannett. It will become part of the same chain that already owns the Eugene Register-Guard and the Daily Journal of Commerce in Portland.

Though GateHouse is buying Gannett, the combined company will be called Gannett, the better-known name in the media business. The combined company will own 260 daily newspapers and 300 weekly publications in 47 states. A timetable for the takeover is still under discussion.

The Gannett-GateHouse news comes a week after the announcement that The Bulletin and the weekly Redmond Spokesman were sold at auction to a group that includes Salem-based EO Media and Bend-area investors. EO, which owns several Oregon newspapers, including the East Oregonian in Pendleton and the Astorian in Astoria, will operate The Bulletin and Spokesman. The sale closes Aug. 30.

A beginning at The Bulletin

Many Bulletin reporters and editors have gone on to bigger news operations or business success. But none probably more so than a cub reporter whose first newspaper job was at The Bulletin.

The young man from Prineville graduated from Redmond High School, then received a journalism degree from the University of Oregon. Looking for his first job out of college, he was hired on at The Bulletin as a replacement reporter to cover the news beats of staffers out on vacation during the summer. Once the summer was over, so was the job.

He moved on to other newspaper and media jobs before turning to another line of work, politics. The Bulletin’s 1936 summer replacement reporter: future Gov. Tom McCall.

— Reporter; 541-640-2750, gwarner@bendbulletin.com

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