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Novick has most registered political consultants

PORTLAND TRIBUNE: JONATHAN HOUSE - Commissioner Steve Novick is the only City Council member on the November 8 general election ballot.Four political consultants are working on Commission Steve Novick’s re-election campaign, more than half of the seven who recently registered with the City Auditor’s Office under a new city policy.

Novick is also the only member of the council on the November 8 general election ballot. Consultants working for his opponent, smaller business owner Chloe Eudaly, do not have to register because she has not been elected to the council.

"Although we believe the reporting was intended to only apply to political consultants like Hilltop Public Solutions, in the interest of full transparency we reported all individuals working with the campaign — even ones that may be exempt under the language of the code,” says Jake Weigher of Hilltop Public Solutions, who is working on Novick’s campaign.

The other three registered consultants are working for Mayor-elect Ted Wheeler and two measures referred to the ballot by the City Council. One is a $258 million affordable housing bond and the other is a 3 percent tax on recreational marijuana sales.

The consultant registration policy is an expansion of the lobbyist registration requirement passed by Sam Adams was mayor. The expansion was proposed by Commissioner Nick Fish.

“The filings are great for transparent government in Portland,” says Fish, who was concerned that consultants could otherwise lobby council members on behalf of other clients without having to register.

Fish made the proposal after Willamette Week reported on an unannounced meeting between Novick, Mayor Charlie Hales and consultant Mark Wiener when the city was negotiating with Uber over doing business in the city. Wiener subsequently registered as a lobbyist for Uber, but the City Auditor’s Office ruled Wiener should have been registered at the time of the meeting and fined the company $2,000 for violating the lobbyist registration requirement.

Wiener’s firm, Winning Mark, registered as the consultant working on the affordable housing bond measure. It was sponsored by Commissioner Dan Saltzman.

Weiner filed a registration report saying he had dinner with Novick where the election campaign came up, but denying that he is working for Novick. He said he was only registering out of an abundance of caution, and filed a second report withdrawing as a registered consultant for Novick.

The other consultants working for Novick are campaign manager Hannah Howell, Blaine Palmer of Blaine Palmer Consulting and Dan Mermin of Lake Research Partners. Merlin is also working for Wheeler.

The consultant working on the tax measure is Terri Preeg Riggsby. It was sponsored by Commissioner Amanda Fritz.

You can read the filings and learn more about the program at www.portlandoregon.gov/auditor/71608.