Mayor's spokesman accused of violating elections law

Mayor's spokesman accused of violating elections law »Play Video
Dana Haynes, spokesman for Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, is under investigation by the secretary of state's office after he was accused of violating the state's elections law.

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Oregon secretary of state is investigating the Portland mayor’s spokesman, Dana Haynes, after a complaint that Haynes wrote a politically charged press release on public time and on the public’s dime.

The release talks about a lawsuit against the city by a group called Portlanders for Water Reform. In the release, this quote is attributed to Mayor Charlie Hales: "The anti-environment funders behind this suit are also behind a ballot measure to create a new layer of government to run the environmental services and water utilities."

It’s that reference to a ballot measure that may violate Oregon elections law. ORS 260.432 says taxpayer time can’t be used to influence the adoption or rejection of a measure.

Portlanders for Water Reform also filed the complaint against Haynes with the secretary of state.

Haynes dismissed the complaint, calling it a tactic to distract from the ongoing lawsuit.

"It’s called misdirection. Rather than respond to the facts in the [lawsuit against the city] and the law in the case, rather than talk about your case you need to do some misdirection. It’s not an uncommon tactic," Haynes said.

According to a secretary of state spokesman, the investigation of Haynes is not just a matter of procedure. The secretary of state's office made the decision that the accusation against Haynes warranted an official investigation.

KATU wanted to talk to Portland Mayor Charlie Hales about the allegations Thursday. If he had Haynes write the release, particularly the line about the ballot measure, he could be implicated, too. But Haynes said Hales would not talk.