By Julia Shumway
A mysterious group has spent at least $36,000 over the past few days to boost a Green Party candidate over the Democrat in Oregon’s 4th Congressional District.
Green Party candidate Mike Beilstein has acknowledged he won’t win — he told the Capital Chronicle last week that he expects to receive less than 3 percent of the vote. But that hasn’t stopped outside groups from backing his campaign in an apparent attempt to undermine Democrat Val Hoyle in her tight race with Republican Alek Skarlatos.
Voters in the district first noticed something odd in early October, when they received text links to opinion surveys that tested messages about Beilstein as a “progressive environmentalist” and attacked Hoyle’s environmental record.
An independent expenditure group, Green Oregon, formed Oct. 19 and promptly spent more than $36,800 on campaign mail and digital media production and placement to support Beilstein and attack Hoyle, according to Federal Election Commission records.
Mailers sent to voters include a quote from Beilstein calling climate change an “immediate existential threat” and claim he’ll fight to pass the Green New Deal. They accuse Hoyle of being in the pocket of big corporations and accepting nearly $500,000 from corporate political action committees and special interest groups during her previous campaigns for state office.
A website paid for by the same group repeats those claims. Green Oregon lists its address as a rent-a-mailbox suite in Eugene, and the person who registered the website’s domain had all contact information redacted for privacy.
Independent expenditures are more prevalent in federal races than in statewide and legislative races, as federal campaign finance laws limit how much donors can give to candidates.
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