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Week in Review: “Longtime legislative staffer for Betsy Johnson repeatedly voiced hateful views online toward Black, Muslim and LGBTQ people,” Johnson Campaign Attacks Journalists, Lies About Campaign Questionnaires

In other news: Tina Kotek Shows She Is the Only Candidate with a Real Housing Plan and Launches Opening TV Ad of the General Election

[Portland, OR] – Yesterday, The Oregonian broke the news that a long-time staffer for Betsy Johnson “repeatedly voiced hateful views online toward Black, Muslim and LGBTQ people”:

“For more than eight and a half years, Oregon unaffiliated gubernatorial candidate and former longtime lawmaker Betsy Johnson employed a woman as a legislative staffer who repeatedly voiced hateful views online toward Black, Muslim and LGBTQ people.

“At the same time Pamela Fitzsimmons was a long-tenured staffer to Johnson, she maintained a Twitter account and a blog, Held to Answer, where she repeatedly referred to Black people as criminals, railed against the Black Lives Matter movement, said Black civil rights organizations needed segregation and hate crimes for their survival, questioned whether a Black man wanted to be shot by police for publicity, called LGBTQ rights activists “bullies,” said transgender individuals who share their stories were attention-seeking and wrote that the U.S. Constitution “might be a lot worse” if Muslims had participated in its writing. She wrote her name at the end of each blog post.”

This story is the latest example of how Johnson’s actions undermine her basic pitch as a gubernatorial candidate. As journalist Leah Sottile tweeted: “I continue to fail to understand how Johnson could purport herself as the anti-extremism candidate when her own longtime staffer was proudly and publicly disseminating so much racism and hate.”

Johnson also decided to attack journalists from both OPB and The Oregonian this week for reporting on Confederate flags and far-right symbols at her campaign events. In a statement to reporter Hillary Borrud, Johnson called OPB’s Dirk VanderHart a “lazy reporter,” and accused The Oregonian of “shallow muckraking.”

Rosa Colquitt, Chair of the Democratic Party of Oregon’s Black Caucus, provided a much-needed reality check in an op-ed in The Skanner:

“Betsy has it all wrong. The majority of Oregonians, including our rural communities, value inclusion and unity, not racism and bigotry. The irony is simply overwhelming, coming from a candidate who professes to run a campaign of accountability and unity when, instead, she continues to drive a wedge between our communities.”

Johnson’s campaign also made news this week for making false accusations against Oregon’s two leading reproductive rights organizations: Planned Parenthood PAC of Oregon and Pro-Choice Oregon PAC.

Johnson’s campaign falsely told The Oregonian that “none of the pro-choice groups who endorsed Tina Kotek have even asked our campaign to fill out a questionnaire.”

However, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon and Pro-Choice Oregon PAC both have evidence that they invited the Johnson campaign to participate in their endorsement processes. Johnson never replied, and never proactively asked either organization about their process.

Johnson’s campaign picked a bad time to criticize Oregon’s trusted reproductive rights groups. On Tuesday, a ballot measure in Kansas that would have allowed lawmakers to ban abortion was rejected “in dramatic numbers and by an overwhelming margin.” Voters in Kansas sent a message to the nation: abortion access is a potent issue that will motivate voters this year

In other news this week, OPB’s Lauren Dake took a deep dive into where the three leading candidates for Oregon governor stand on solving Oregon’s housing crisis. 

The in-depth coverage made it clear that Tina is the only candidate for Governor with the track record, plans, and vision to tackle this crisis head on.

In the on-air discussion of her coverage, reporter Lauren Dake says that Republican Christine Drazan “really aligns herself with a more typical Republican ethos” when it comes to housing policy. And, despite efforts to paint herself as a middle-of-the-road candidate, conservative Betsy Johnson’s “philosophy aligns a bit with Drazan, the Republican candidate.”

In contrast: “no lawmaker in recent history has been more influential when it comes to statewide housing policies than Tina Kotek.” From OPB:

“While serving as speaker of the Oregon House, Kotek ushered through legislation to pass the nation’s first statewide rent control bill, preventing landlords from raising rents beyond a certain percent each year. She pushed through a measure to allow cities with a population of more than 10,000 people to build duplexes and triplexes to increase housing stock, despite neighborhood zoning restrictions. More recently, she helped secure $75 million of state funds to turn motels into emergency shelter beds to increase the state’s supply of beds for people experiencing homelessness by 20%.

“If elected governor, Kotek said she would issue an executive order on her first day that would create a plan and eventually a legislative package to create more housing. She would push to streamline the permitting processes, expand the construction workforce and put state money toward funding affordable housing developments.”

In fact, Tina’s commitment to helping people living on the streets underlies a new TV ad that Tina for Oregon launched this week. 

The ad, “Food Bank,” highlights Tina’s background helping Oregonians struggling to make ends meet, including volunteering at her church’s food pantry and working as an advocate at Oregon Food Bank. She understands the complexity of Oregon’s homelessness crisis, and as Governor, she has a plan to help people who suffer from serious mental illness and addiction move off the streets.

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