An Oregonian story implying that Baruti Artharee recruited Teressa Raiford and Bruce Broussard to challenge Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith in her re-election has drawn a series of remarkable reader comments.
The Oregonian story, dated April 9, says Raiford and Broussard “have recently associated with Artharee.”
The article goes on to say, “Both Raiford and Artharee say Artharee had no hand in their decision to challenge Smith.” (sic)
Raiford and Broussard, both of whom have run for office in the past – in Broussard’s case including city, county, and federal offices -- told the reporter that Artharee did not influence their decision to run in the May primary.
(While The Skanner News endorsed Smith in the race last week, the paper’s editorial board also expressed support for Raiford, saying, “Voters can’t go wrong electing either of these marvelous women. Smith wins our endorsement by a hair simply because of her experience at the federal level.”)
On the Oregonian’s article about the two candidates and Artharee, one reader named Virginia Cohen, who posted three times via Facebook, invoked the respected advocacy group for elders in a barrage of criticism that appears to have crossed into the realm of defamation.
“Why is he always meeting with people that look like drug dealers,” she writes. “My AARP friends have now taken this guy on as a project. Let's get rid of this type of rubbish and his associates in our city.
“We are going to start to identify those people that are associated with Baruti Artharee, so you can be aware of people that on the same page with him.”
Cohen touches on The Skanner News’ recent article about Artharee’s son Hasan, who inherited polycystic kidney disease from this mother’s side of the family and is in a life-or-death race for a kidney donor, saying, “It seems that Mr. Artharee should start apologizing... we see that he is begging even the white community for help because his son needs a kidney.”
She goes on to say, “Sympathy to his son, it is unfortunate that he may be suffering the sins of his father.”
Shelley Buckingham, spokeswoman of the Oregon AARP, says that there is no connection between her organization and Cohen.
“We are a 501c4 organization, we do not endorse any politicians and have not been involved in any of these races,” she said this week.