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June 25, 2009

Oregon GOP recruit is a mama’s boy

Oregon Republican Sid Leiken is in a bit of trouble for using his mom’s consulting firm to conduct polling, rumored to be for his race against Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon).

Oregon’s Secretary of State is conducting an investigation into whether Leiken improperly spent money from his mayoral campaign account to his mom’s firm, P&G Marketing and Research, which isn’t registered to do business in Oregon.

And adding to the mystery, the campaign’s treasurer, told the Eugene Register-Guard that he has no receipt for a payment to Leiken’s mom’s consulting firm, raising the question whether it was a phantom payment.

The state has given Leiken until July 13 to provide documentation on his campaign filings and a copy of the poll. Leiken has compounded the controversy by offering conflicting explanations about the payment, and refusing to explain what the polling was for.

The brouhaha comes as Democrats have aggressively to raise questions about Leiken’s ethics as he starts ramping up his campaign. Republicans view the Springfield mayor as a credible recruit, and are hoping he can give DeFazio his first serious challenge since elected in 1986.

But leading Republicans are also frustrated with how he’s handled a seemingly small controversy, and are also concerned about his upcoming second quarter fundraising numbers, which are expected to be weak.

UPDATE: Leiken's response to the controversy?

“In February, 2009 my mayoral campaign committee made an expenditure of $2,000 to P & G Marketing for the purposes of opinion research that was conducted related to the Springfield City Council’s discussion about enacting a gas tax," Leiken said in a statement.

"As a result of the poll I determined that referring the issues to voters provided a higher likelihood of passage. It has since come to my attention that P & G, who my mayoral campaign account paid for the research is not registered with the Oregon Secretary of State. I have contacted the vendor and the amount expended is being refunded."

“These services were provided at far less than other vendor options. This entity is controlled by, and shares a common address, with my mother which she uses for business matters. She regrets the fact that she had not registered with the Secretary of State. I am disappointed that she has been brought into this partisan complaint and she does not wish to comment on this matter. I hope her request will be respected.”