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City to address Branams staff pay

The city auditor's office is expected to decide this week on whether City Council candidate John Branam violated the rules of the public campaign finance program by paying one or more of his staffers too much.

City Elections Officer Andrew Carlstrom said the office is waiting to receive historical information on what staffers are paid by other campaigns from C and E Systems, a business that helps many candidates in a variety of Oregon campaigns file their campaign spending reports.

That information will then be compared to how much Branam is spending on staffers, Carlstrom said. In the week after Branam was certified to receive $134,745 in city funds for his council campaign, he paid several staffers more than $2,100 each, including $15,000 to manager Phil Busse.

City rules prohibit publicly financed candidates paying for work done before certification, or paying more than fair market value for work - a condition that helped trip up former council candidate Emilie Boyles in the last council election.

Boyles is being required to pay the city the $144,905 she received in public campaign funds plus $14,000 in penalties, in large part because she paid her 16-year-old daughter $12,500 for computer work. That amount was ruled excessive by the auditor's office.

Contact by the Portland Tribune, Branam said he was confident his campaign had not violated the rules and would retain its public funds.

'Obviously, we're confident we're in good shape,' he said.