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Mum's the word for Bailey, Wheeler on income sources

Both major candidates for Portland mayor are refusing to release details of their personal finances.

Multnomah County Commissioner Jules Bailey has rebuffed a call from State Treasurer Ted Wheeler that he identify all of his former consulting clients. Wheeler’s request followed several news stories questioning whether any of the clients posed a conflict of interest for Bailey when he served in the Oregon Legislature.

Bailey says he had a “strict rule” against disclosing his clients while representing a portion of Southeast Portland in the House of Representatives from 2009 to 2014. He actually listed a number of them on his business website, however, and some have been reported in previous Portland Tribune stories.

For his part, Wheeler has declined a request from the Bailey campaign that he release quarterly financial reports filed with multiple state agencies. Ironically, Wheeler cited the filings as an example of the scrutiny he undergoes as treasurer when he called on Bailey to identify his clients.

All members of Wheeler’s household must disclose their financial transactions in the reports, which are required by Oregon law. They are not public records.

Both Bailey and Wheeler deny they are trying to cover up any wrongdoing by not releasing the information. Bailey says his former clients never influenced any of his legislative votes, and Wheeler says his reports are scrutinized for conflict by multiple agencies.

The stories have surfaced in part because Bailey and Wheeler hold similar views on many of the issues in the race, leaving reporters looking for other ways to help voters tell them apart.

Redactions or confidentiality?

Before starting his own consulting firm, Bailey earned two master’s degrees from Princeton University in 2007, one in public affairs and the other in urban and regional planning. That same year, he was hired as a project manager for ECONorthwest, a Portland-based economic consulting firm.

After being elected to represent House District 42, Bailey left and opened Pareto Global in the summer of 2009. He operated it until being elected to the Multnomah County Commission in 2014. Bailey is not legally required to identify his former clients because they retain his firm, not him, personally.

At the request of the press, both Bailey and Wheeler released their personal tax returns for 2012, 2013 and 2014 in late January of this year.

When Bailey released his, he blacked out the names of most of his firm’s clients. In an email accompanying the returns, Bailey wrote, “The only information I have redacted is the name of my clients, as I have a strict rule to protect client confidentiality.”

By then the Portland Tribune already had revealed that one the clients was the Clean Economy Development Center, a nonprofit organization that also had retained Gov. John Kitzhaber’s fiancee Cylvia Hayes to influence state energy and environmental policies (“First lady’s consulting work leaves some scratching their heads,” Jan. 27, 2015).

A subsequent Portland Tribune story revealed that Bailey received $78,000 from the organization for work in Rhode Island in 2011 and 2012 (“Bailey says link to Cylvia Hayes a non-issue,” Jan. 19, 2016).

Because of the reporting, Bailey did not redact the organization’s name from his 2012 returns. But he did black out the name of one other client who paid his company $32,259 in 2012. He also redacted the names of two clients who paid his firm a combined $3,100 in 2013. And he redacted the names of two clients who paid his firm a combined $6,250 in 2014.

When the Portland Tribune asked Bailey to identify all his clients after he released the redacted returns, he refused through his campaign consultant, Stacey Dycus. She did say that the largest 2014 client was Innovate Washington, an economic development organization created by the 2011 Washington Legislature. It subsequently hired Bailey as a full-time employee, a job he left after being elected to the Multnomah County Commission later that year.

Internet searches by the Portland Tribune quickly turned up two other clients. One was Climate Solutions, a nonprofit organization working to reduce carbon emissions and increase the use of renewable energy. The other was Horizon Wind Energy, a private company hoping to expand its Eastern Oregon wind farm operations. Both had interests in the Oregon Legislature when Bailey was a member (“Who did Bailey work for?” Feb. 25, 2016).

A subsequent Internet search found an archived website for Pareto Global where Bailey listed 13 clients. They included Climate Solutions and Horizon Wind Energy. Bailey worked for at least some of the other clients when he was employed by ECONorthwest.

Most of the clients are government agencies. The others are: the City of Portland; the Portland Development Commission; the City of Lake Oswego; the Washington Department of Transportation and Parametrix; the City of West Sacramento; the United Nations Children Fund; the City of Newark and the Port of Newark; the City of New York; and the Swiss Development Corporation and Electrowatt Engineering.

The Oregonian published a story repeating much of the information in the Portland Tribune’s previous stories about Bailey’s involvement with the the Clean Economy Development Center on March 31. That morning, Wheeler held a news conference and called on Bailey to identify all of his former consulting clients, saying all the stories raised “legitimate questions” about “what he was paid for and his actions as a state legislator.”

Bailey declined the request.

State-level scrutiny or secrecy?

Wheeler contrasted himself to Bailey during the news conference, saying that as state treasurer, he is required to file quarterly financial reports with several state agencies to ensure that he and his family are not profiting from his public position.

According to Wheeler, the reports include practically all of his family’s financial transactions. Called Reports of Personal Finance Activity, they are filed every three months with auditors with the State Treasurer’s Office, the Oregon Department of Justice and the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office.

“I’m under a tremendous amount of scrutiny for obvious reasons,” Wheeler said of the reports, which must be filed by other high-ranking Treasury employees, too.

After the news conference, Christine Lewis, Bailey’s campaign manager, called on Wheeler to release them.

“In the interest of transparency, Treasurer Wheeler should disclose his Reports of Personal Finance Activity as filed with the state pursuant to [Oregon law]. Portland needs a mayor who won’t say one thing and do another,” Lewis said.

The Portland Tribune also requested the reports. Wheeler declined both requests through his campaign manager, Michael Cox, who said, “Ted is subject to the same or greater scrutiny than other elected officials in Oregon. The state system for submitting quarterly financial reports is intended to protect sensitive, personal financial information while at the same time giving officials, auditors, and regulators the chance to review and act upon that information. That system works and there has been zero suggestion it doesn’t.”

Bailey’s campaign would like to find out whether Wheeler has invested any of his family’s money in businesses criticized by Portland progressives, such as fossil fuel companies. Wheeler is an heir to family timber money and has a substantial investment portfolio.

Information to be reported includes any stock, bond, mutual fund, real estate or loan forgiveness transaction for the previous calendar quarter. Failure to file accurate reports is a Class C felony.

According to tax returns he released in January, Wheeler reported an income of $2.2 million in 2012, mostly from capital gains. He reported $916,000 in 2013, mostly from capital gains and dividends. And he reported $1.5 million in 2014, with qualified dividends of more than $371,000 and capital gains of more than $910,000.