SEVERE WX : Wind Advisory - Air Quality Alert - Flash Flood Watch View Alerts
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Oregon Law Allows for Campaign Contributions from Shadow Corporations

Under Oregon law, anonymous donations from individuals are illegal, but donations from anonymously-run corporations are not. The company name alone is enough.

Posted: May 11, 2018 1:32 PM

By TOM JAMES , Associated Press

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Anonymous campaign donations are banned in Oregon, but nearly half the money raised by a leading Republican gubernatorial candidate cannot be directly traced because it comes from two out-of-state corporations.

The two corporations have donated $125,000 of the $288,000 raised so far by candidate Greg Wooldridge, who lists "the sunshine of accountability" as part of his campaign platform.

What the functions of the corporations are - and who is behind them - was a mystery only partly cleared up by the campaign after the donations were made. One is tied to a California real estate executive, but the other, listed as a Nevada firm, had its business license yanked, an Associated Press review found.

The cloaking of campaign funds reveals a loophole in Oregon law: Anonymous donations from individuals are illegal, but donations from anonymously-run corporations are not. A company's name alone satisfies Oregon laws requiring candidates to list sources of donations, even if company documents don't list the actual owners.

The result is that people who want to donate anonymously to political campaigns can get around the ban on anonymous individual donations simply by using an anonymously-held corporation, said Jay Steinmetz, a political science professor at the University of Oregon.

"The corporation becomes a kind of black box in that way - it's hard to know what goes in or what comes out," said Steinmetz. "The spirit of the law is what's being violated here."

Asked about the donations last week, Wooldridge said the larger of the two donations — $100,000 — was from a friend who had routed it through a corporation to protect their identity.

The campaign listed the source as Daybreak Investments, a business originally registered anonymously in Delaware, then re-registered in California.

A spokesman for Wooldridge's campaign later said the donation came from John Ryan, a California real estate executive. On California documents, Ryan is listed as the manager of a company which itself is listed as a partner of Daybreak, but not as the owner of either.

Asked about the donation, Ryan confirmed he had originally wanted to remain anonymous, but added that logistical considerations also drove him to donate through the company.

"Most of my money is in Daybreak," Ryan said. "It's just easier to write a check out of that, than it is to transfer it and put it under my name."

Ryan said he has supported other candidates in similar fashion, mostly in California, and that he donated to Wooldridge out of friendship and a shared affinity for veterans' issues. Woolridge is a former Navy pilot.

Heading into the May 15 Oregon primary, Woodridge is competing for his party's gubernatorial nomination against two others considered front-runners, Knute Buehler, a state legislator, and businessman Sam Carpenter.

The Wooldridge campaign's second-largest donation, $25,000, originates from a Nevada-registered firm called Wingate Enterprises. Donation records include a note that the firm does business under the name Pacific Bottling services.

But neither company appears to exist in that state as a legally functioning business.

Wingate's Nevada business license is listed as permanently revoked, the AP found, and no business named Pacific Bottling Services is registered in Nevada.

The owner of an Oregon business named Pacific Bottling Services said they rent equipment from Wingate, but are a separate company.

"Pacific Bottling Services and myself are not connected to the political activities of Wingate Enterprises," wrote Noel Arce, the Oregon company's owner, in an email Thursday.

In an email Thursday, Wooldridge campaign spokesman Jonathan Lockwood wrote the donation came from Wingate's CEO, but wouldn't say who that was, explain why the two firms were listed together, or comment on the fact that neither appeared to be a functioning business in Nevada.

Multiple requests for further comment were not returned by Wooldridge or Lockwood.

Listing a business that isn't legally registered isn't a violation of campaign rules so long as it's done in good faith, said Deb Royal, chief of staff for Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson.

"It's not a campaign's responsibility to research everyone that gives you a contribution," Royal said.

Part of the challenge of identifying who's behind corporations comes from state licensing laws, which often allow corporations to be set up without listing who their actual owners or beneficiaries are.

Under Nevada law, corporations are allowed to list "nominee officers," who are not actually involved in running the business but allow the company to use their name for a fee. Before its license was revoked, Wingate Enterprises appeared to have taken advantage of that: According to a Las-Vegas Sun report, the same person named as president in its early corporate documents was also named as an officer of nearly 4,000 other companies in the state.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 305560

Reported Deaths: 3536
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah50387640
Washington34277272
Marion31825388
Clackamas25971268
Lane23275244
Jackson20487243
Deschutes1610599
Umatilla12424123
Douglas10459183
Linn1001586
Josephine8418162
Yamhill718196
Klamath625292
Polk607669
Malheur468267
Benton447624
Coos398169
Columbia314637
Jefferson308146
Lincoln268329
Union262236
Wasco231939
Crook207837
Clatsop204525
Tillamook177023
Baker166919
Morrow165621
Curry164917
Hood River159335
Grant7528
Harney74813
Lake6478
Wallowa48910
Gilliam1334
Sherman1243
Wheeler651
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4506148

Reported Deaths: 67482
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles143707325748
San Diego3469343983
San Bernardino3385855465
Riverside3385344749
Orange3127365326
Sacramento1450512052
Santa Clara1390161828
Kern1332821510
Fresno1231511856
Alameda1125311322
Ventura930801107
Contra Costa92822908
San Joaquin911281596
Stanislaus794201210
Tulare58961888
San Mateo50602603
San Francisco48998603
Monterey46684558
Solano43194307
Santa Barbara40783495
Sonoma38812372
Merced37430526
Placer32910350
Imperial30845753
Kings27955278
San Luis Obispo26845304
Madera19800258
Santa Cruz18965210
Yolo18044239
Shasta17563274
Butte17516226
Marin16584242
El Dorado14247123
Sutter12670149
Napa1207091
Yuba892861
Nevada805685
Humboldt798482
Tehama714380
San Benito692667
Mendocino671571
Lassen634127
Tuolumne595193
Lake584583
Amador479057
Siskiyou344341
Calaveras328066
Del Norte325232
Glenn304530
Colusa275418
Inyo160539
Mono14615
Plumas11486
Mariposa94212
Trinity69210
Modoc6278
Sierra1980
Unassigned1030
Alpine980
Medford
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 81°
Brookings
Partly Cloudy
62° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 62°
Crater Lake
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 81°
Grants Pass
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 81°
Klamath Falls
Clear
76° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 76°
Gusty winds Friday, big rain chances going into the weekend
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events