Two election complaints have been filed with the Oregon Secretary of State’s office regarding the upcoming recall election for three Klamath Irrigation District board members.
One was filed by proponents of the recall over the publishing of a full-page newspaper advertisement opposing the recall.
The other was filed by former KID special attorney, Lawrence Kogan of New York, claiming the recall petitions were not properly vetted.
It is unclear if either petition will delay the elections scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 12 and on Nov. 7. Sources in the Oregon Secretary of State’s office did not get back to the Herald and News as of press time.
Newspaper ad complaint
Content in the newspaper ad that appeared in the Herald and News on Sept. 16 argues against recalling three members of the KID board: Brent Cheyne; Kenneth Smith; and Grant Knoll. (Cheyne and Smith are up for recall Oct. 12. Knoll is up Nov. 7.)
The ad ran under the header, “Recall Justifiable???”
The petitioners for the recall: Edward Bair, Ross Fleming and Jason Chapman, allege that the ad needed to be financed and backed by a Political Action Committee under state law. Under the law, any person or group facing a recall must form a PAC if they intend to spend or receive more than $750 for their campaign against the recall. The ad was placed and “paid for by zones 1, 2 and 3” of the district according copy for the ad, but no political committee nor committee treasurer was named.
The ad’s cost was $995, but there is no evidence of a political action committee filing with the state nor any recorded expenditures, the complaint alleges.
“The candidates’ failure to form a political action committee in opposition to the recall elections is another example of the continued unethical behavior exhibited by the candidates,” writes Mika Blain, Klamath Falls attorney for the petitioners.
Brenda Bayes, interim elections director for the secretary of state’s office, said the state is investigating the allegation. It is unknown when a decision will be made.
False statements alleged
Meanwhile, Kogan filed a complaint Thursday with Bayes’ office, claiming the proponents for the recall have made false statements in their petitions for the recall and may have improperly filed the petitions in the first place.
“I write in my individual capacity as a citizen from outside the state of Oregon and as the authorized representative of the Institute for Trade, Standards and Sustainable Development,”… a New Jersey-based nonprofit aimed at promoting regulatory transparency and accountability in government, Kogan’s petition said.
Kogan was hired by the KID board late last winter to help negotiate the $10 million rebuild of the C Canal flume project. Part of the reason for the recall is that some KID irrigators claim that Kogan overstepped his bounds and that decisions were made in closed meetings without approval of the full board. Some of the wrangling resulted in delays in approving work on the C flume. Kogan’s work with KID ended in July.
Kogan said, for his part, and the board, the delays were due to concerns that the board did not have the full funding to complete the project and there were fears that the Bureau of Reclamation could take possession of the infrastructure if KID defaults on the BOR loan.
In his 16-page complaint, (which is posted with this story at heraldandnews.com) Kogan writes that “this recall campaign may already have been legally compromised or corrupted and that state crimes may potentially be or have already been committed.”
However, he adds that none of what he writes should be construed as being a legal opinion or legal advice.
Kogan claims that the filing of the petition may not have been done according to Oregon election law and that signatures on the petitions may not have been properly certified. He also claims that instructions to those collecting signatures may have omitted information on how a signature is properly obtained.
The website, kidrecall.org, was launched at the start of the recall campaign on July 25. Kogan claims that the site contains, “false, misleading and opinionated information that is intended to persuade KID patrons to vote in favor of the Oct. 12 recall.”
He further claims that other websites, such as heraldandnews.com and the Klamath County Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page, added the website to their news stories. “(It) suggests not only that H&N’s editors may support the recall effort, but they are subliminally trying to persuade their readership to cast their vote in support of it.”
He asks that the state investigate the allegations and offer the three under recall equal protection under the law.
Response to documents
Attorney Blain, in response to the Kogan documents, said in an email to the H&N:
“First, I do not believe Mr. Kogan has standing to file a complaint because he is not an Oregon resident, not a registered voter, not a KID patron, does not represent the recall candidates, and is not an Oregon licensed attorney.
“Second, Mr. Kogan’s complaint is lengthy and confusing. Who is he making the complaint against? Me, the chief petitioners, the Herald and News?
“Third, the Secretary of State Elections Division does not have jurisdiction over irrigation recall elections.
“Finally, KID’s attorney and I addressed the issue of the ‘petition’ prior to KID’s verification of the recall signatures.”