The Boundary is a little late to posting this article, but it should come as a warning signal to proponents of the Healthy Kids proposal recently referred to the voters (SB 3/SJR 4).
Janie Har wrote in yesterday’s Oregonian that R.J. Reynolds and Phillip Morris, two leading cigarette purveyors, had filed papers with the Secretary of State to form committees in opposition to Measure 50. And even though the industry had already given tens of thousands of dollars to Oregon House Republicans to stand up for smoking in the legislature, the tobacco companies seem willing to reach even deeper into their bottomless wallets to put one over on Oregon voters.
R.J. Reynolds lobbyist J.L. Wilson, who recently was the laughingstock of the Oregon lobby for playing both sides of an issue, indicated that his boss would throw as much money as necessary against M50:
Wilson said he expects his campaign to spend $3 million. “Of course,” he added, “we reserve the right to spend more.”
Interestingly, Wilson also takes a shot at unnamed ‘special interests’ for being on the receiving end of the $153 million that M50 revenues would generate during the 2007-2009 fiscal biennium. If anyone knows anything about special interests, it’s definitely Wilson, who at the young age of 32 has lobbied for the following clients:
- Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association
- Oregon PERS Retirees
- National Federation for Independent Business
- R.J. Reynolds
- SAIF Corp.
- Northwest Container Services
- Southern Oregon Regional Communications
You get the idea. One assumes the special interests that Wilson mentions in regard to Healthy Kids revenue include the Oregon Health Plan, who over the last decade has cut nearly 100,000 participants from the program, increasing the number of uninsured Oregonians to well over 600,000.
Wilson is amateur, however, compared to the designated anti-M50 campaign manager, Mark Nelson. Though a near majority of legislators seem to abhor the man and his tactics, he’s widely cited as the most successful and effective lobbyist in Salem. And he, with the help of Wilson, spent millions of dollars in the 2004 election to save SAIF Corp. from Liberty Northwest’s campaign to get rid of its competition. And though they may be widely hated by many political participants and observers, this team, backed with endless contributions from out-of-state corporations, is very troubling for the just-underway Healthy Kids Oregon campaign.
Another piece of bad news for the Healthy Kids coalition: the Portland Business Journal reports that Measure 50 is very much up in the air. Riley Research Associaties, who conducted the poll, will announce specific figures tomorrow, but head honcho Riley said that the electorate seems to favor the seemingly more controversial Measure 49 (which ‘fixes’ M37) by a much wider margin than Measure 50. There are two caveats which still make this somewhat good nows for M50 advocates: voters still at least ‘favor’ the measure, and the ‘electorate’ in a special November off-year election will be largely defined by an energetic get-out-the-vote campaign.
Finally, who are the ‘good guys’ running the Measure 50 campaign? It’s Carol Butler and Maura Roche, who lead the successful ‘No on 43’ campaign in 2006. Roche and Andi Easton from the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems are co-chairing the campaign, which is a coalition of the following organizations:
- American Cancer Society
- American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
- American Heart Association
- American Lung Association of Oregon
- Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
- Coalition for a Healthy Oregon
- Kaiser Permanente
- Mid-Valley IPA
- Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems
- Oregon Medical Association
- PeaceHealth, Oregon Region
- Providence Health System
- Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon
- Your local otolaryngologist*
*Not officially. Go to the Measure 50 website and help ’em fight the icky big-money lobby and their ethically-questionable lobbyists!