Portland Public Schools Superintendent, Officials Accused Of Violating Election Laws

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Eight Portland, Oreg. school officials, including the Portland Public Schools Superintendent Carole Smith, have been accused of breaking state election laws by trying to convince voters to support a $548 million construction bond.

The eight district leaders, among them the district's top lawyer and chief financial officer, all played some role in the production and distribution of materials that were biased to advocate the bond, though the materials did not provide information to voters on how taxpayers would be affected, according to the Oregonian.

It's illegal in Oregon for state employees to spend public time and money on campaign efforts, KATU News reports. The bond was narrowly defeated by a 49.8 percent vote in favor. But the officials argue they followed the rules.

The state launched an investigation after Eric Fruits, an adjunct professor at Portland State University, received a pamphlet in the mail in the spring.

"It was pretty unambiguous that it was telling people to vote for the bond," Fruits told KATU. "They tried to make it sound like it was just information, but it was so heavily weighted toward telling people they had to vote for it that it seemed to me that it was more advocacy rather than information."

The district officials can each request a hearing, or pay a $75 fine, according to the Oregonian.

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