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Sources: Attack of political spam

Emails to supporters have become a common — and increasingly annoying — way for political candidates to raise funds.

For example, as the 2015 campaign tax credit was about to expire, Gov. Kate Brown pestered her supporters with not one, but two fundraising emails on New Year’s Eve. The first email seeking money went out from Team Kate Brown at 10 a.m. Dec. 31. The second, from Brown herself, was a reminder to donate that went out at 6 p.m. The subject line read, “Did we connect?”

Other politicians who sent out last-minute fundraising emails stressed reaching fundraising goals for the year. They included Democratic Oregon U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (“midnight deadline tonight”), Democratic secretary of state candidate Brad Avakian (“Look how close we are”), Republican secretary of state candidate Dennis Richardson (“15 hours left”), Democratic state treasurer candidate Tobias Read (“12 hours left”), and — surprisingly — Democratic Oregon U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (“not much time left”), who isn’t even up for re-election in 2016.

Other factors more important

So do such email fundraising requests actually pay off?

It’s hard to tell, since campaigns don’t report what kind of contacts resulted in donations. But Brown did pretty well last year, raising more than $1.49 million in cash and in-kind contributions. That’s almost twice as much as her major Republican opponent, Salem doctor Bud Pierce, who does not send out email blasts. He only raised around $584,000 last year, and much of it came from himself. Of course, Brown’s an incumbent Democrat in a Democratic state.

A better comparison might be the Democratic primary election race for secretary of state, where Avakian, the state labor commissioner, is king of the emails. He raised more than $219,000 last year. That’s less than the $264,000 raised by state Rep. Val Hoyle, but more than the $133,000 raised by state Sen. Richard Devlin.

How much time does Brown spend fundraising?

Brown has identified government transparency as a top priority since she took office in February, with a backlog of public records requests filed while former Gov. John Kitzhaber was still in office.

Brown’s legal staff has appeared to work diligently to release the Kitzhaber records — including thousands of his emails — and has released most, if not all, of those records for free.

However, according to the Capital Insider, some reporters wonder whether the governor’s strategy might be different for certain records from her own administration.

An Associated Press reporter filed a request on July 14 for the governor’s calendar — something the Kitzhaber administration routinely released free of charge. More than five months later, the request is still listed on Brown’s public records request log as “under review.”

The Capital Insider is a subscription newsletter published by the Pamplin Media Group and EO Media group.

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