The Oregon Transformation was a heavy player in this year’s May primary, shoving hundreds of thousands of dollars into Clackamas County as part of their new political strategy to take over local races. The group, headed up by Spam King Dennis Richardson (R-Central Point) and Oregon GOP chair Allen Alley, managed to directly and hugely impact the May election with their steady flowing cash.
Even the Oregonian wrote that “the biggest player in the three Clackamas County commission races this year arguably isn’t a candidate — or even a person — but the Lake Oswego-based Oregon Transformation Project and an affiliated political action committee.”
And now they’re ba-aack!
Just about a week ago, the Oregon Transformation Project collected a $75,000 contribution from Stimson Lumber Company. Clearly the group was revving up for something. But what?
Lindsay Berschauer, Oregon Transformation Project staffer, announced a few days ago that she will run for Rep. Matt Wingard’s seat. (Wingard dropped his re-election bid in the midst of allegations that he abused his position and power for sexual misconduct and provided alcohol to minors.)
And not just any staffer, Berschauer is one of the key players in the Oregon Transformation Project (side bar created by the Oregonian) and has served as the director over a two year period.
It appears as though the Oregon Transformation Project wasn’t satisfied just with recruiting, choosing, and training the candidates whose offices they buy. Now they’re hoping to elect one of their own.
A Common Agenda
Well before Wingard made headlines by creating a sex scandal, he faced ethics concerns over his use of his seat to line his own pockets. As the co-chair of the House Education Committee, Wingard pushed bills that expanded state funding to online charter schools, at the same time he was on the payroll of Oregon Connections Academy, an online charter school run by a for-profit corporations based in Maryland.
Once he held political office, Wingard’s political consulting career also seemed to gain traction. In fact, since 2010, Wingard raked in more than $40,000 in consulting fees from one of his House cohorts, Rep. Katie Eyre.
And the close links between Wingard and Berschauer are abundant.
They’ve both worked for the Cascade Policy Institute, the corporate-backed think tank that pushes for privatization of public services and lower taxes for corporations and the rich. Berschauer worked for Cascade Policy Institute until moving over to the Oregon Transformation Project.
In fact, the Oregon Transformation Project PAC donated a hefty sum directly to Wingard’s campaign during Berschauer’s tenure.
In addition to, ahem, “not currently dating” the Representative, Berschauer’s Facebook page is littered with numerous direct re-shares of Wingard’s talking points – including his attempts to pit teachers as bullies and promote Tea Party-type candidates.
Considering Wingard’s ongoing scandal, Wilsonville voters may be relieved to not see his name on the ballot. Precinct Committee Persons will meet July 9 to choose Wingard’s replacement nominee.
But it appears that the newly emboldened Oregon Transformation Project is using this opportunity to grab more influence in the legislature. And if that happens, Oregonians can unfortunately expect more of the same from this seat.