Brown-Nike deal draws complaint from Portland resident

August 2, 2018

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Department of Justice will investigate a Portland man’s complaint about an apparent deal by Gov. Kate Brown, Nike and public employee unions to keep an initiative off the ballot.

The union-backed proposal would have required Nike and other large companies to disclose tax payments and other closely held business details.

The unions later decided not to proceed. Around the same time, Nike donated $100,000 to a political action committee which is expected to campaign against two tax initiatives on the November ballot opposed by Brown and the unions.

Richard Leonetti filed the complaint July 24 and it was first reported by Oregon Public Broadcasting.

His letter said the arrangement violated a state law against paying to hinder an initiative. He wrote that the Legislature passed the election law in question “to prohibit the payment of money in exchange for withdrawing initiatives, and if this practice is allowed then surely there will be a flood of initiatives filed with the sole motivation of securing payments to certain PACs or organizations in exchange for withdrawing initiatives.”

The complaint was submitted to the Secretary of State’s office. It referred the matter to the Oregon Department of Justice to investigate — standard protocol.

Representatives for the unions and the governor’s campaign told The Oregonian/OregonLive that the complaint has no merit. Nike declined comment.

Last month, Brown’s re-election campaign told OPB that she had brokered a deal with Nike and the public employee unions to keep the corporate transparency initiative off the ballot.

But the unions disagree with that characterization. They said they dropped their initiative in order to focus on defeating the two anti-tax initiatives.

“It was an internal decision,” said Joe Baessler, political director for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. “We didn’t withdraw the measure because of Nike.”


Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive, http://www.oregonlive.com

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