Obscure political group amps up massive spending against Oregon candidate for Congress

Voters for Responsive government, a group of political activists that appeared last month in Portland to rally voters against Congressional Candidate Susheela Jayapal spent $1 million more on negative advertising during the week. This brings its total expenditure against Jayapal up to $2.3 million.

The negative ads can be incendiary, and even misleading. The ads try to blame Jayapal for the failures of the Multnomah county commission and its powerful chairman. Jayapal was among five county commissioners who were in charge between 2019 and the time of her resignation, in late 2023.

One flyer shows a picture of caged dogs and draws from The Oregonian/OregonLive’s coverage of neglect at the Multnomah County animal shelter while Jayapal was on the commission. One flyer claims that Jayapal, the county commissioner and other officials gave crack pipes, straws and aluminum foil to drug users in response to a drug epidemic.

The county’s plan, which was to provide smoking materials to meth and fentanyl users as a harm reduction method never took place before it got put on hold in the summer of last year. The problems at the county’s animal shelter were present long before Jayapal was appointed to the commission.

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Jayapal did not immediately respond to requests for comments.

Voters for Responsive government has not disclosed their donors to the federal Government, so it is difficult to determine who is behind the negative advertisements. The California-based committee has until May 20 to reveal its donors, the day before Oregon’s primary elections. It is also required, like other committees of this type, to disclose any large expenditures made for or against a candidate. However, the only spending disclosed was against Jayapal. The website of the committee also only features negative ads against Jayapal.

However, Jayapal’s not the only candidate who is attracting attention in this election. Jayapal, and her opponent Gresham City Councilor Eddy Morales, have repeatedly accused Maxine Dexter that she has received outside support from groups funded by supporters “MAGA Republican Candidates” who spend millions to undermine progressive candidate of color. It is not supported by any evidence that Dexter’s supporters are more than a handful.

Dexter is a doctor and state representative who has received outside support of $1.96 million from the 314 Action Fund. This group supports STEM professionals running for public office. Morales said that Dexter was “engaged in an elaborate scheme” when she claimed she didn’t know who had given large sums to the long-established 314 political committee during this spring.

Dexter raised $575,00 in April, with the majority of that coming from donors outside the state. She also reported raising $218,000 in a single May day. More than 40% came from donors that have donated to pro-Israel groups, and some to Republican candidates.

In a letter sent by her campaign on Monday, Dexter was defended by Salem’s colleagues. Thirty Democratic legislators, including House and Senate leaders, signed the letter describing Dexter as “a person of immense integrity” and a respected and effective legislator.

“(Dexter), took an oath to put her patients’ best interests first and not do harm as a doctor. The letter states that she has taken the same approach in her role as a legislator. The idea that she’d ever follow the wishes of any special interest or group is offensive.

According to federal filings made last week, Dexter is ahead of Morales and Jayapal in fundraising. Jayapal said previously that she expected AIPAC to work against her in the race. Dexter donor who gave a lot to AIPAC-affiliated groups in the past told The Intercept that she did not remember giving directly to Dexter, but supports the candidates AIPAC requests.

The Intercept reported that Jone Dalezman, a donor, said “I donate all my contributions via AIPAC.” “Whenever they ask me to donate to their endorsed candidate, I do.”