Pay to play, sometimes pay for play, is a phrase used for a variety of situations in which money is exchanged for services or the privilege to engage in certain activities. The common denominator of all forms of pay to play is that one must pay to “get in the game,”
Oregon has no limits on political contribution and no independent expenditure disclosure requirements (such as requiring a political ad to include a true source of funding). Oregon Legislative races are the second most expensive in the county, after New Jersey, and state wide candidates are faced with huge financial requirements to run competitive races.
This creates problems.
Forbes recently reported on what it believes is evidence of large scale “Pay to Play” here in Oregon. (Gov. Kate Brown and AG Ellen Rosenblum Blaze the Oregon Trail of Political Patronage) The article states
“Our analysis at American Transparency (OpenTheBooks.com) found 207 state contractors gave $805,876 in campaign cash to Governor Kate Brown ($518,203) and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum ($287,673) since 2012. These businesses hold lifetime state contracts worth at least $2.6 billion. State contractor donations to the governor and attorney general represent 57 percent of current cash on hand in their campaign committees.”
It’s not surprising that at the State level offices, its the Democrats who are taking the money from those who are “paying” and want to “Play” because excepting for the recent victory by Dennis Richardson, they have held all state wide offices and have controlled the Legislature in Oregon for many years. Neither PGE, nor Eli Lilly and Co. , nor any of the handful of well connected law firm/lobbying firms have written checks to Chris Dudley or Bud Pierce recently.
But Pay to Play is an equal opportunity bi partisan program. During election time, the “players” may put more of their chits down with their favored candidates in competitive districts but the fact is, 85% of Oregon legislative races and most statewide races are not competitive, so giving to sure bet candidates isn’t a matter of ideology, it’s a matter of access. Or, as some may believe, it’s pay to play.
Watching Pay to Play Unfold?
You don’t always get to see a pay to play unfold. But we could be seeing the “Pay” part developing right now, as a business entity seems to have developed a keen interest in Oregon and Oregon politics. Motor Vehicle Software Corporation. (MVSC) took root in Oregon just one year ago. As the Portland Business Journal reported,
Here in Oregon, MVSC will provide title and registration services to the business community, largely fleet operators, auto dealerships and other businesses. MVSC also uses its space in Northwest Portland to warehouse license plates, which it sends directly to customers.
The company has a contract with the state DMV that outlines the work it does, but the businesses who use MVSC’s services are who pays for them, not the state.
“It’s a good public-private partnership model,” Brueggeman said.
An ORESTAR search reveals that just in 2015-2017, MVSC started to pour large amounts of money into Oregon politics and has reported payments of $129,360 to elected officials and political PACs. The majority of that went to Democratic PACs and leaders, including The Democratic Party of Oregon ($20,000), Governor Kate Brown ($10,000), Rep. Tina Kotek ($10,000), Senate Democratic PAC ($5,000) and House Democratic Future PAC ($5,000). Republicans also enjoyed the largesse of MVSC. Including the House Republican PAC ($5,000) and Rep. Mike McLane ($2,500). (Scroll down for complete sortable list of contributions)
What Plans are ahead for upgrading Oregon DMV records
With Oregon’s new motor voter, and the age of our existing DMV title, licensing and registration system, it’s not too hard to believe that Oregon will soon need an upgrade to the DMV system, and integrate that system with both the Elections department for motor voter, as well as the private companies that are starting to use MVSC services. And, even if the State doesn’t upgrade, clearly the business model for MVSC require a good working relationship, and access, to the political policy makers in Oregon given that their business is creating an interface between public records and auto dealers and auto finance companies. With ORESTAR we’ll be able to watch any correlation between MVSC contributions, and contracts, or legislation, that benefits MVSC specifically.
(This collated data that I have on MSCV contributions has been given to an intrepid “real” reporter as well. Should he think it worth investigating through his much better sources.)
Politicians also need to Pay to Play
As long as it costs a million dollars to run a competitive legislative race and six figures just to be taken as a serious candidate, candidates feel like they are forced to raise money in large chunks in order to compete. Candidates need to pay for campaigns in order to play in elections.
You may be tempted to feel sympathy for Democratic candidates and elected officials, but don’t. Democratic leaders control Oregon and could pass legislation to limit contributions and require transparency in independent expenditures. They prefer the limitless money model because they continue to win. Why change the rules of a game you dominate?
The Democratic leaders have designed the political finance system in Oregon that at best looks like a pay to play system, and at worst is a pay to play system.
Here is how much money Motor Vehicle Services Corporation gave to Oregon Politicians and political committees. And remember THIS IS FROM A SINGLE CORPORATE INTEREST. How many more are there?
|Tran Date||Filer||Contributor/Payee||Amount||Aggregate Amount||Party Affiliation|
|10/20/2016||Democratic Party of Oregon||Motor Vehicle Software Corp||20000||20000||Democratic|
|07/25/2016||Friends of Tina Kotek||Motor Vehicle Software Corporation||10000||10000||Democratic|
|07/23/2016||Caddy McKeown for Representative||Motor Vehicle Software Corp||5000||10000||Democratic|
|05/23/2016||Friends of Ted Wheeler||Motor Vehicle Software Corporation||5000||10000||Democratic|
|05/16/2016||Friends of Ted Wheeler||Motor Vehicle Software Corporation||5000||10000||Democratic|
|05/02/2016||Kate Brown Committee||Motor Vehicle Software Corporation||10000||10000||Democratic|
|12/07/2015||Kate Brown Committee||Motor Vehicle Software Corporation||10000||10000||Democratic|
|08/12/2016||Friends of Mark Johnson||MVSC - Motor Vehicle Software Corporation||5000||5000||Republican|
|07/26/2016||Promote Oregon Leadership PAC||MVSC - Motor Vehicle Software Corporation||5000||5000||Republican|
|11/14/2015||John Davis For Oregon||Motor Vehicle Software Corporation||5000||5000||Republican|
|01/08/2017||Senate Democratic Leadership Fund||Motor Vehicle Software Corporation||5000||5000||Democratic|
|08/26/2016||Future PAC, House Builders||Motor Vehicles Software Corporation||5000||5000||Democratic|
|08/26/2016||Friends of Jennifer Williamson||Motor Vehicle Software Corporation||5000||5000||Democratic|
|07/11/2016||Caddy McKeown for Representative||Motor Vehicle Software Corp||5000||5000||Democratic|
|05/16/2016||Friends of Val Hoyle||Motor Vehicle Software Corporation||2500||5000||Democratic|
|04/12/2016||Friends of Ted Wheeler||Motor Vehicle Software Corporation||5000||5000||Democratic|
|08/12/2016||Committee to Elect Mike McLane||Motor Vehicle Software Corp||2500||2500||Republican|
|12/11/2015||Boquist Leadership Fund||Motor Vehicle Software Corporation||2500||2500||Republican|
|11/13/2015||Committee to Elect Mike McLane||Motor Vehicle Software Corp||2500||2500||Republican|
|01/19/2016||Friends of Val Hoyle||Motor Vehicle Software Corporation||2500||2500||Democratic|
|07/29/2016||Friends of Ted Ferrioli||MVSC - Motor Vehicle Software Corporation||2000||2000||Republican|
|07/28/2016||Boquist Leadership Fund||Motor Vehicle Software Corporation||2000||2000||Republican|
|08/05/2016||Friends of Nancy Nathanson||Motor Vehicle Software Corporation||2000||2000||Democratic|
|07/31/2016||Friends of Arnie Roblan||Motor Vehicle Software Corporation||2000||2000||Democratic|
|07/27/2016||Committee to Elect Betsy Johnson||Motor Vehicle Software Corporation||2000||2000||Democratic|
|07/25/2016||Peter Courtney for State Senate||Motor Vehicle Software Corporation||2000||2000||Democratic|
|07/25/2016||Friends of Ginny Burdick||Motor Vehicle Software Corp||2000||2000||Democratic|
|07/28/2016||Citizens to Elect Carl Wilson||Motor Vehicle Software Corp.||1500||1500||Republican|
|08/01/2016||Committee to Elect John Lively for State Representative, Dist. 12||Motor Vehicle Software Corporation||500||1500||Democratic|
|08/02/2016||Committee to Re-Elect Greg Smith||Motor Vehicle Software Corporation||1000||1000||Republican|
|07/27/2016||Friends of Kim Thatcher||Motor Vehicle Software Corporation||1000||1000||Republican|
|01/06/2017||Team BSW (Barbara Smith Warner)||Motor Vehicles Software Corporation||1000||1000||Democratic|
|08/16/2016||Gomberg for State Rep||Motor Vehicle Software Corporation||1000||1000||Democratic|
|08/15/2016||Friends of Ann Lininger||Motor Vehicle Software Corporation||1000||1000||Democratic|
|07/25/2016||Friends of Elizabeth Steiner Hayward||Motor Vehicle Software Corporation||1000||1000||Democratic|
|07/25/2016||Friends of Lee Beyer||Motor Vehicle Software Corp.||1000||1000||Democratic|
|01/19/2016||Friends of Susan McLain||Motor Vehicle Software Corporation||1000||1000||Democratic|
|01/14/2016||Committee to Elect John Lively for State Representative, Dist. 12||Motor Vehicle Software Corporation||1000||1000||Democratic|
|08/04/2016||Friends of Chuck Thomsen||Motor Vehicle Software Corporation||500||500||Republican|
|07/29/2016||Friends of Bill Hansell||MVSC - Motor Vehicle Software Corporation||500||500||Republican|
|09/03/2015||Oregon Automobile Dealers Association - Political Action Committee||Motor Vehicle Software Corporation||500||500||None|
|07/27/2016||Friends of Rod Monroe||Motor Vehicle Software Corporation||500||500||Democratic|
|08/26/2016||Oregon Automobile Dealers Association - Political Action Committee||Motor Vehicle Software Corporation||360||360||None|
|05/18/2016||Friends of Ted Wheeler||Motor Vehicle Software Corporation||5000||0||Democratic|