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Cornilles attacks Wu enablers

Republican candidate attempts to tie Democratic rival to ousted congressman
by: Jaime Valdez Republican Rob Cornilles squared off against Democrat Suzanne Bonamici. Both are seeking the seat once held by David Wu, who resigned in scandal last year.

With three weeks to go, the special election in Oregon's 1st Congressional District has become a hothouse, with the Oregon Democratic Party slamming GOP hopeful Rob Cornilles in a series of mailers and television ads scrutinizing the Tualatin businessman's professed history of job creation.

Now, Cornilles is hitting back. At a debate in Tigard on Tuesday, the Republican called Democratic rival Suzanne Bonamici an 'enabler' of former Congressman David Wu, who resigned last year amid a sex scandal.

'And because of that enabling we now have the worst representation of any district in the country,' Cornilles said. 'And that is that we have no representation.'

According to The Oregonian, Cornilles made similar charges Monday at the Washington County Public Affairs Forum.

The attack stems from the legal work that Bonamici's husband, Michael Simon, did for Wu while he was in Congress. Simon resigned as Wu's lawyer in April last year, shortly before Simon's appointment to the federal bench was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in June.

In response to a question from the News-Times in October, Bonamici's campaign denied that she knew about Wu's troubles before the public did. Instead, Bonamici said she, like most people, learned from a July Oregonian story that a young woman had alleged Wu made aggressive and unwanted sexual advances.

According to this week's Oregonian story, Cornilles told reporters that Bonamici's connection to Wu 'says a lot about her character. She's not interested in representing the people; she's interested in representing the party.'

The criticisms are largely based on reporting from 2010 by the News-Times and further reporting in 2011 by The Oregonian and Willamette Week that showed Cornilles changed the way his company operated after the Game Face paid $9,052.07 to three former participants in its 'Executive Academy' after they made claims with Oregon's wage and hour commission claiming that Cornilles' academy was an unpaid call center gig with a $1,395 entry fee.

'What they don't tell you is when you show up you go through one week of class work and you learn the first day that you're a salesman for him,' Keith Marson, one of three former Executive Academy students who Game Face settled with in 2003, told the News-Times in October 2010. 'You're a cold-call telemarketer.'

At the time, the Cornilles campaign dismissed the complaints, saying they came from disgruntled job seekers.

The campaign also told the News-Times that a federal tax lien filed against Cornilles' company in May 2007 for $83,284, and released August 2007, was the result of a bookkeeper's mistake.

The revelations about Game Face came late in the 2010 campaign, when Cornilles challenged Wu, and didn't get much attention. But both issues have featured prominently in anti-Cornilles advertisements this year.

According to The Oregonian, Cornilles claimed in the Monday debate that 'These types of allegations and mischaracterizations are being furthered by the same cynical establishment that has covered up for David Wu.'

Times reporter Geoff Pursinger contributed to this news story.