A half dozen doctors’ groups that help manage Medicaid in Oregon have given $60,000 to Gov. Kate Brown’s re-election campaign.
The $60,000 figure amounts to almost the largest donation that Brown has received this year, and she may need all the help she can get after her chief Republican opponent reported a $500,000 gift from a single source -- conservative business tycoon and founder of Nike, Phil Knight, the Andrew Carnegie of Oregon.
Brown had her own plutocratic billionaire backer in 2016, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who showered her with $250,000 last year, and she still had $1.4 million on hand -- twice Buehler’s reserve -- as of August, according to The Oregonian.
Her biggest check this year comes from a union group, The Laborers Political League, which gave her $75,000.
Knight topped his previous all-time gift of $400,000 on political neophyte and Republican basketball player Chris Dudley, in 2010. He later gave $250,000 to Gov. John Kitzhaber in his 2014 race against Dennis Richardson, who is further to the right ideologically than Buehler or Dudley.
The physician money for Brown came from three political action committees -- Coalition for a Healthy Oregon, Doctors for Healthy Communities and Douglas County Physicians PAC.
Last year, they split their allegiance between Brown and Republican Bud Pierce, a Salem physician. But so far Buehler, a Bend physician, has received none of their cash in the governor's race.
The doctors’ groups have also given $40,000 to the legislators since it adjourned in July, underlining the difficulty that Rep. Mitch Greenlick, D-Portland, has had to make the state’s Medicaid providers more transparent and their funds more accountable to the state.
The Coalition for a Healthy Oregon has given $40,000 to Kate Brown’s re-election and spent $15,000 on legislative campaigns. Three senators have each received $2,500 from the doctor’s group -- Sen. Arnie Roblan, D-Coos Bay, Sen. Richard Devlin, D-Tualatin and Sen. Jackie Winters, R-Salem.
Roblan serves the most politically divided Senate district in Oregon; Devlin chairs the powerful Ways & Means Committee and Winters is the ranking Senate Republican on that committee.
Almost half the COHO PAC’s funding -- $23,000 -- comes from All-Care Management Services.. It was followed by the Douglas County Independence Physicians Association at $12,500 and Doctors of the Oregon Coast South at $9,100 and Cascade Comprehensive Care of Klamath Falls at $5,000.
All of these groups provide healthcare coverage to Medicaid members.
In addition to contributing to the Coalition for a Healthy Oregon, the Roseburg doctors have their own political action committee, the Douglas County Physicians PAC, which gave $5,000 to Brown, as well as $6,000 to legislators. They gave $1,500 each to three local politicians, Sen. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, Rep. Dallas Heard, R-Roseburg and Rep. Caddy McKeown, D-Coos Bay. And. they gave $1,500 to Rep. Greg Smith, R-Heppner, in Eastern Oregon.
Like Winters and Devlin, Smith has a high perch on the legislative budget committee.
The Salem doctors’ organization, the WVP Health Authority, put $100,000 in to the Doctors for Healthy Communities PAC this year and have so far spent $34,000 in donations to politicians’ campaign accounts..
Their PAC also gave $15,000 to Brown, but spent $19,000 on on legislators, including $2,000 each to Devlin, Winters, Sen. Fred Girod, R-Stayton, Sen. Ted Ferroli, R-John Day, and Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, D-Gresham.
Chris can be reached at [email protected]