PORTLAND — The Democratic Party of Oregon filed an elections complaint Thursday, April 19, against Tualatin Mayor Lou Ogden, a Republican seeking election as state labor commissioner, a nonpartisan position.
In the complaint, party officials accuse Ogden of violating state elections laws by misrepresenting himself as the incumbent in the race against Eugene Democrat Val Hoyle for the open seat at the Bureau of Labor & Industries.
In a TV ad, Ogden says: “As the labor commissioner, it’s my responsibility to …”
“By referring to his ‘responsibility’ in the present tense, Mr. Ogden clearly intends to present himself as currently holding this public office,” DPO officials alleged.
His lawn signs says: “Lou Ogden, Commissioner, Bureau of Labor & Industries.”
“It does not say ‘vote for,’ ‘elect,’ or other language to clarify that he is seeking the office for the first time and doesn’t already hold the position, they said.
“As these examples make clear, Lou Ogden is purposely misrepresenting himself to Oregon voters,” said Jeanne Atkins, DPO chairwoman and former Oregon secretary of state. “Public office requires earning and keeping the public’s trust. It is disappointing to see Mr. Ogden try to skirt the rules with this dishonest representation of his candidacy.”
Jonathan Lockwood, a spokesman for Ogden’s campaign, denied that Ogden had violated elections laws.
“Nothing in (the law) says that a candidate must use the word ‘for’ on political signage,” Lockwood wrote in an email to the Pamplin/EO Capital Bureau. “The law says you can’t claim to be the incumbent. Nowhere has Lou done that.
“Lack of the word ‘for’ on a yard sign or Facebook is not a claim of incumbency and falls under the protection of ... the Oregon Constitution free speech clause.”
The television ad features written messages explicitly stating that Ogden is the mayor of Tualatin and a candidate for the Buruea of Labor & Industries commissioner.
Voters also can see in the voters pamphlet mailed out this week that Ogden isn’t the incumbent, Lockwood added.
“We specifically titled him in those ads because voters in our polling show a clear preference for Mayor Ogden’s nonpartisan experience running a busy suburban city to Val Hoyle’s hyper-partisan activities as the divisive Democratic majority leader,” Lockwood said. “Former Secretary of State Atkins should stop playing politics and grasping at straws on behalf of Hoyle.”
The Pamplin/EO Capital Bureau is awaiting more information from the Secretary of State’s Office.