A typically quiet Oregon election has been fueled with hundreds of thousands of dollars from outside donors.
Long-time Washington County prosecutor Kevin Barton was running uncontested until the March 6 filing deadline. Now, he’s now up against Criminal Defense Attorney Max Wall, and both campaigns are getting contributions from multi-billionaires.
When Washington County District Attorney Bob Hermann announced it was his last year on the job, Chief Deputy District Attorney Kevin Barton, an 11-year veteran of the department, stepped up.
“I think there are some challenges we have, especially with things we see around the nation,” Barton said. “I want to make sure that we can meet those here in Washington County with some fresh ideas.”
With resounding confidence from public officials and several agencies, including his own department and law enforcement, it looked like an anticlimactic race and an easy win for Barton–until the filing deadline, when Wall announced that he would also be running.
“I felt like I could add something of value not just to the office, but to the community,” Barton said. “And now, to have what I would call sort of a curveball thrown into it when, all of a sudden, there are hundreds of thousands of dollars coming in from D.C. and outside the state, I’m personally offended.”
Barton’s opponent and criminal defense attorney Max Wall says he thinks it’s interesting that people are devoting so much time to looking at campaign finance and not talking about the important issues.
He says his campaign started as a grassroots effort. Campaign finance records, however, show that his campaign is funded by several donors, including the Oregon Law & Justice PAC, the Safety & Justice PAC with ties to Washington D.C. and multi-billionaire George Soros.
“I’ve never met or spoken to George Soros,” Wall said. “I think this is part of a larger national conversation, and I’m glad we’re having it.”
Barton says Wall’s biggest problem is that he denied the contributions early on in the race.
“I think that Mr. Wall’s big problem early on in the race when he was asked about this, he denied it, he said it’s not true and he said that the money is not coming in,” Barton said.
Nike Executive Phil Knight recently responded to the flood of donations to Wall’s campaign with a $25,000 contribution to Barton’s.
Barton says he’ll only be funded by local donors in the state. While the focus is turned to campaign finance, both candidates are now pushing their strong views on criminal justice reform.
The Oregon primary election is May 15.
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