Under investigation: State looks into Save Old Schools filings

October 2014 Posted in News, School

By Kristine Thomas

For the second time in 14 months, the Oregon Secretary of State is investigating Silverton resident Gene Pfeifer for a possible violation of election law regarding his political action committee, Save Old Schools, SOS, for which he is the treasurer.

On Aug. 7, 2013, Pfeifer was notified by the state he was being fine $425 for failing to meet the deadlines to file required paperwork for a political committee and campaign finance activity.  Pfeifer successfully campaigned against the $36.9 million school bond measure in May 2013.

This fall, Pfeifer is campaigning against a $24.9 million school bond on the Nov. 4 ballot. His campaign is being investigated for allegedly not filing paperwork on time.

Oregon Secretary of State Communications Director Tony Green confirmed Oct. 10 that a complaint has been filed, Pfeifer is being investigated for not updating his political action committee’s statement of organization to reflect opposition to the current measure.

In a Sept. 29 email, Green wrote, “This morning, we received a call inquiring about this PAC – it hadn’t updated the statement of organization to reflect its opposition and it hasn’t filed a certificate for this calendar year.” Green said Pfeifer responded to the elections division on Sept. 29. “We explained to him that he needed to amend the committee and file the certificate….”

Pfeifer says he is not in violation of state law and he has met the required deadlines. In a Sept. 29 email to Nancy Ferry with the state elections division, he wrote, “With my contacts (to the secretary of state) last week and this morning as testimony, we are trying to act appropriately in respect to the law.”

Pfeifer outlined to Ferry that he was in compliance with the law by refering to emails he sent out on Sept. 20, 22 and 24. Pfeifer said the first email had no comments about funding or SOS, adding the Sept. 22 email only “references that SOS needs donations and volunteers. There are no particulars as to how or to whom.”

Pfeifer asked Ferry to note the second email was seven days from Sept. 29, which he contends is in accordance with the law. The Sept. 24 email, Pfeifer wrote, specifically asked for donations and included the Secretary of State Elections No. 16361. “This was sent after Janet (Flowers) told me our registration number was current,” Pfeifer wrote. “You are receiving these forms today, I believe within the seven day allotted period.”

As far as expenditures, Pfeifer said he personally filed two arguments in the Voter’s Pamphlet in opposition to the $24.9 million school bond Sept. 8, using his own money.

“Save Old Schools had been hand written on the bottom of one,” Pfeifer wrote. “The clerk at the Marion County recorder counter stated that their policy was to not print anything that was not typed. Despite my argument being truncated, that wording was used behind my name. I pray I am not fined for that.”

Oregon Secretary of State Compliance Specialist Jennifer Hertel confirmed to Pfeifer the receipt of both a complaint and of his amended paperwork on Sept. 29. Hertel asked Pfeifer to review the complaint and send written response to her questions by Oct. 15.

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