Police are investigating whether a man working for two city council hopefuls broke any laws while helping them qualify for Portland's new public campaign system, the city auditor said this week.
The city's public financing program is designed to offset the influence of big money in politics. Candidates for the council must collect $5 contributions from 1,000 Portlanders to receive $150,000 in taxpayer money for the May primary.
Candidate Emilie Boyles gathered enough signatures to qualify for the money and Lucinda Tate is close.
Both hired a Ukrainian immigrant named Vladimir Golovan to help them pass the threshold. But questions have emerged about Golovan's fund-raising practices.
A local newspaper interviewed nine people on Boyles' contribution list who said they don't recall contributing $5 to her campaign. Moreover, Boyles' campaign report has several instances in which one person appears to have signed for several people.
In a statement, Boyles said she has fired Golovan and asked him to return funds paid to him by the campaign.
The Boyles campaign has said that it has not decided whether to continue its participation in the voter-owned system or whether to return the public funds. At this time, Boyles said, "no new campaign obligations are being aquired (sic)."
City auditor Gary Blackmer said a police review is the best way to assure the public that the new system is not being abused.
Blackmer said Boyles is free to spend her campaign money, but "if something is found wrong, of course, she'll have to pay it all back."
— The Associated Press