Democratic Bend lawmaker faces fine of $ 4,500 for waiting 7 months to declare $ 45,000 in campaign donations


A Democratic Bend lawmaker who won his seat last year in one of the state’s most expensive legislative races said on Friday he plans to pay the $ 4,455 fine he was handed that day. week after reporting $ 44,550 in contributions about six months later.

Rep. Jason Kropf reported on the statewide teachers’ union contributions in May, after The Oregonian / OregonLive asked why he had not reported them. By that time, seven months had passed since Kropf had accepted generous donations from the Oregon Education Association in September and October 2020. He was supposed to report contributions within seven days.

Kropf wrote in a text message on Friday that his inability to report donations was “the result of a simple miscommunication – there was certainly no intention of being incomplete in our reporting.” I absolutely believe in the value of transparency in our campaign finance system and will pay the appropriate assessed late fees. I am grateful now and always for the support of educators in Oregon.

Kropf did not respond when asked if he would pay the fine with personal funds or money from his political action committee, as allowed by state law.

The Secretary of State’s electoral division proposed a civil fine of $ 4,455, set at 10% of campaign contributions that Kropf belatedly reported, the maximum amount the state can impose under such circumstances. According to a September 29 letter from the Secretary of State’s office in Kropf, he could have appealed against that amount.

In May, Kropf said his campaign treasurer had found no advice from the Oregon Education Association’s political action committee, OEA-PAC, regarding in-kind contributions. The teachers’ union reported to the state that it made donations for 2020 to the Kropf campaign: $ 18,550 in TV and radio ads on September 29, $ 26,000 in TV and radio ads on October 6, 400 $ for “advertising production” on October 2. $ 28 and $ 92 for brochures on October 30. The Oregonian / OregonLive discovered the gap when examining union political action committee donations to legislative candidates for an article about union pressure during the 2021 legislative session to make class size a subject of compulsory negotiation.

Kropf still has not reported the $ 492 in in-kind contributions he received from the OAS-PAC on Oct. 28 and 30, according to state campaign fundraising data.

The total amount Kropf received from the teachers’ union – $ 45,042 plus $ 500 in cash that he reported – is not unusual in Oregon politics, given that the state has no limits political contributions. Oregon lawmakers briefly explored proposals to cap donations this year, but dropped the idea despite overwhelming support from voters to allow such limits via a November 2020 amendment to the state constitution. .

Oregon allows donors and campaigns to wait 30 days to report all types of transactions, except in specific windows near elections when the time limit decreases until it finally reaches seven days. Additionally, donors who incur in-kind expenses can wait up to 48 hours after reporting the transaction to the state to notify the recipient of the transaction by email or letter, according to the secretary’s campaign fundraising manual. of state.

It is also common in Oregon for large donors to support their favorite candidates and ballot-measuring campaigns with in-kind contributions such as OAS-PAC gave Kropf. In fact, most of the Oregon Education Association’s political action committee contributions in 2020 to legislative candidates were “in-kind donations,” meaning the donor pays a vendor such as a polling company. or a business that buys advertising time on television.

Kropf’s campaign coordinated with various donors to fund its advertising efforts with in-kind expenses, Federal Communications Commission records showed. For example, the ad-buying company Media Analysis bought slots from a Bend TV channel on behalf of Kropf’s political action committee, “Jason for Bend”. Then, OEA-PAC and other campaign donors paid Kropf’s campaign bills to Media Analysis and other vendors.

–Hillary Borrud; hborrud@oregonian.com; @hborrud

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